Don Anderson

This conversation is closed.

I need help with a dilemma: What does it mean to be American? And Why does it work?

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Up-date to thread’s scope: (July 10th)

Thanks for all the comments, they have been very helpful.
I have sorted out my feeling on being American, it maybe a jumbled mess but it is working for me. And to avoid rehashing what has been said I’ll leave it at that.

But the large diversity of views here, and within America’s culture, politics, values, heritages, etc. I have to ask;

Why does it work?

By most standards we are a highly dysfunctional group, and should be a failed society.
But here we are a great nation, and by most logic that should not be the case.
Yes we are the home of the free and the brave, but also home of tyrants, cowards, passive, aggressive, moral and immoral and I could go on and on forever.

Americans are often labeled as racist and intolerant, if that was true we would not have more nationalities and different cultures than any other country in the world.
Being American is a lessen tolerance and that is something we can’t experience in heaven, but I feel the lessen goes deeper than that.


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Is American where you live, or is American a belief in freedom and liberty for all?

Firstly let me state I believe we are here to learn from experience that we can’t have in heaven. And recently I have had two events in my life that have me confused as to the lesion I should be learning from them.

My Background: I’m just an average lower-middleclass Midwest American.

Experience 1: I have been researching my ancestry for about a year now, and I feel pride with my findings. So far my ancestors range from English noble that came to America in 1633, to peasant framer and serving maid from Prussia (Germany) in 1820. No slave owners, only union army soldiers, fought for America in the war for independence, etc.

Experience 2: Many people throughout the world, now are fighting and/or protesting for freedom and libe

Closing Statement from Don Anderson

I just noticed that when I added the up-date at the top it cutoff some at the bottom.
Basically Experience 2 was feeling shame for the current America and how all the founding values gone, and asked how to address the confecting feelings.
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I have concluded that I can feel pride for upholding the founding values of America, and as I witness its fail I should feel sadness instead of shame. And find comfort in that like the Roman Empire it values will live on thought out the world, even though it exists in name only.

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    Jun 26 2013: Personally, I agree with Socrates on this topic: "I am not an Athenian or Greek, but a citizen of the world." I think he hits the hole in one with this quote regarding patriotism and country devotion. I take from this quote that we should try to improve the world as a whole, not just our country. Improving the welfare and lives of all is much better than just your country. Our loyalty is to humanity, not a single country. This does not mean you have to hate your country, and I am fond of this country, but it does not have my loyalty.

    I share some concepts and ideas with the US, but they are my ideas. I believe we shouldn't strive to be American or any other group (atheist or whatever), but we should strive to be who we are. Our various affiliations being a part of us, not defining us. This sort of leads into racism or any other negative "-ism"s. There was some quote that I say in a Italian (capt.?) restaurant bathroom (where the best quotes and signs are written, even though this one was supposed to be there) that inspired this kind of thinking.

    Hopefully that helps, and just let me know if you want me to clarify any of my ideas!
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      Jun 26 2013: Thank you; LaMar, Fritzie and Kai for your words of wisdom.
      Your feedback is helping me sort there my thoughts.

      Even though it defies rational explanation, people do feel emotions and build connections to things beyond their world. EI: Why do most of us get emotional if our favorite sport team or your country at the Olympics wins or cheats? Why? I currently have no thoughts on the matter.
  • Jul 24 2013: America works because it has a common language: money. Whether you are a recently arrived Persian immigrant or a native born American with African ancestry money allows you communicate clearly. Superficial? Yes! Materialistic? Of course. Equalizing and fair for all? I believe so. The concept of 'world peace through world trade' applies for local trade within the US. In a diverse country such as this, doing business with people of other faiths and nationalities teaches you more about ethics and brotherhood then sermons and political ideologies. Was I treated fairly? Did the person do what he or she said they would do? If they did, relations will be warm and cordial and America will roll on. If there is a downside to all of this it is that America doesn't know what to do with something that can't be sold or is somehow useful. Spirit aside from organized religion, doesn't play too well in the mass American culture. But maybe it's enough to get along with people who are different. I think that is amazing in itself.
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      Jul 24 2013: World trade sounds virtuous as long as you are the benefactor. The slave trade did a lot of damage. Trade "winners" get to write the narrative for history and economic books. If you don't have a competitive advantage or a resource to exploit in trade you are screwed.

      I just wonder what the World would be like if we nurtured our specie instead of endlessly battling ourselves.

      What we have done to ourselves over thousands of years we wouldn't do to our pets. With humans it's fight and winner take all.

      Half of the Worlds population is starving and the other half is overweight. Kudos, World trade.
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      Jul 24 2013: “America works because it has a common language: money.”

      It was a huge improvement over what was done before, with poverty being the common language and money being the language for only the ruling class.
      I would not say it’s the only reason America works, but it’s certainly in the 10 top reasons.
  • Jul 23 2013: Historically, America has succeeded because it started with a blank canvass, had considerable resources and created significant competitive economic advantages.

    A blank canvass meant founders could use reasoned self governing strategies in lieu of Monarchs who dominated the World for the previous 1,000 years.

    The North American continent were virgin lands and seas. Had incredible wealth stored within its natural resources. Add cheap slave labor you had huge economic advantage.

    Not having enemy armies within 3,000 miles created 200 plus years of social stability for human intellect and creativity to flourish.

    While imperfect, the rule of law created fairness for a large portion of the population. (or at least better than elsewhere)

    As you may have noticed many of these competitive advantages have faded.

    I have never really understood the whole "Freedom and Liberty" virtuous jawboning. As America freedom and liberty has seldom been seriously challenged in the last 230+ years. All that seems to have done is perpetuate constant fear and reckless military spending and meddling around the World.

    We have military bases in 2/3 of the countries in the World and we still fear for our liberty? CRAZY

    We killed nearly as many of our own citizens in the Civil War as all other US wars combined.
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      Jul 24 2013: @Brian B French - I like your statement, but I disagree in one small area. Let me quote that here

      America freedom and liberty has seldom been seriously challenged in the last 230+ years. All that seems to have done is perpetuate constant fear and reckless military spending and meddling around the World. End quote.

      Look at WW II. Most people don't know their own history there. By June of 1940, Europe was gone. The Nazis in Germany had it all. The only exception was Britain. The Brits had to abandon Europe at Dunkirk & Paris fell that same month. The Nazis were the only game in town in Continental Europe. The Germans invaded Russia a year later. Italy was fighting the British & invaded Greece. By spring 1941, the Brits were bottled up in North Africa. The war was NOT going well for the "Freedom & Democracy" brigades.

      Fact is, there wasn't much left of any kind of "Freedom or Liberty" left anywhere (except the U.S.A.) by December of 1940. That was a full year before the U.S. even entered the war. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, & then the U.S. was in it. But w/o the U.S. & U.K. having broken the strategic codes used by Japan/Germany (thereby having advanced knowledge of most military radio commands) the U.S. could never have successfully defended Midway (or Hawaii either) from Japanese invasion. Had Japan taken Midway & Hawaii, the U.S would have been left Defending the west coast w/what was left of the Pacific fleet. Just because the Allies eventually won that war, does NOT mean there was never any significant threat. Prism? Not w/o cause.

      Had Germany gotten the Atomic Bomb first - that would have been the end. And as a late note, weren't there some significant events as recently as September 2001? As in 9/11/2001? Freedom is NOT free - & our liberties occasionally require defending if we want to keep them. Any other conclusion is inconsistent with the facts of history. Fear for our Liberty? I don't defend my liberty with fear.
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        Jul 24 2013: A few points:

        #1. WWII was over 55 years ago.

        #2. America was not at much risk during WWII. In fact, America prospered in the 50's because all major industrial countries were devastated during the War (competitive advantage).

        #3. Today America's spends as much on military spending as nearly the rest of the World combined. It's overkill, as we do not have a legitimate enemy that threatens our population. (guys with box cutters don't count).

        #4. Protecting other countries liberty may sound good. But it creates imperial power and control and lose - lose relationships and corruption with foreign leaders.

        Much of the World resents our influence. How would we feel if we had foreign military bases in this country?

        It's human nature, if you bully people in THEIR own neighborhood a fight is going to break out and eventually the bully will lose. America was created in response to a seemingly all powerful bully.
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      Jul 24 2013: Historically, Candida, Mexico, and all down to Argentina started with a blank canvass.
      Picasso, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Smith’s 3rd grade class also started with a blank canvass, so a blank canvass and good resources alone does not make a masterpiece.

      The US civil war has been our greatest threat to "Freedom and Liberty", so it is the enemy within that has been and still is the greatest threat.

      We have military bases in 2/3 of the countries in the World because we still fear for all of mankind’s liberty and not just our own.
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        Jul 24 2013: "Fearing for all of mankinds liberty and not just our own."
        How naive can you get?

        We use our military strength when it serves us economically.

        We trade with China which is one of the most repressive govt.s on the planet.

        Why? Because there's short term gains for big companies. World trade and multinational companies pull the strings.

        "We the People" don't need global shipping lanes and cheap Chinese slave labor to survive. But multi-national companies do.
  • Jul 23 2013: First off, there is no certain definition of Americanism. We are citizens of a country that mounted the first great revolution of the modern era. Other than the fact that we inhabit this country, there is no set definition but only what we individually perceive ourselves to be. It can be argued that there are states with much more freedom and liberty, countries in which it is far easier to climb the socio-economic ladder. Our formula for governance is but one example in a sea of many. However, the spirit through which we exist is one that does not work well for many people. Our wealth distribution is anything but equal and even the opportunities for our citizens to make something of themselves is reigned in by the immense scope of Capital to which our government has catered to since the days of Alexander Hamilton. We are far from a perfect society, but we are perhaps the first country to recognize the need to protect ourselves from government (though we fail to protect ourselves from the hoarders of Capital). Thus we set the example of individual freedom for the majority of the developed and developing world.

    Secondly, what makes it work is what makes anything work. We happen to have a mass of resources available to us and the manpower to extract them and shift into the world's largest economy. Every developed nation on Earth can claim that their system works and there are a few that I believe work better than ours, but we hold a sense of national pride, which has been instilled in us from birth so that every time we see an American Flag or a member of our Armed Forces in uniform we are brought back to the line: WE the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and Secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. We are not perfect, but I believe the best in every American man, woman, and child. Maybe I'm a sucker.
  • Jul 15 2013: There are a few parts. Many of them have to do with building on, and improving on, existing systems. I don't believe all systems operate with equal fairness, or present opportunity in an equally motivational way.

    Titles bestowed by government are illegal. There are no knights, sirs, lords, kings, or sanctioned classes. Too much room for abuse there. "Created equal" is a mantra. That implies opportunity that is unavailable in the old country.

    A recent worldwide survey found that corruption and political parties and government (position power) are all linked. The first US president was well aware of this. Please read his address:
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp. Or listen.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTj8r6e7cbM

    The example he set became a standard of behavior. Other countries do not have the same example.

    Also, in many ways America has sorted the world's population based on initiative. People are here because they want to be here.

    So core beliefs driven by empathy and shared experience ( no classes, mostly immigrants ) are: fair play, no work no eat, minimize those institutions that empirical evidence has shown to produce corruption ( the opposite of fair play and a proven de-motivator ).
  • Jul 8 2013: I dont believe you should care.

    It seems to me that all the dotted lines on the map are imaginary (see ISS/NASA Earth footage) - so why are they there?

    Well like the flags and the dotted lines, it's something for us to say we belong to this group, we are a part of it. Be it English, American, Prussian or whatever. Interestingly it's that same belief that makes us think we belong to what we've been told that flags stands for and that's used to make us go to war, to somehow defend that flag for the benefit of others.

    It's a fools game to believe that peoples all across the world are really that much different. As one who's traveled it, I can tell you there are not 194 unique moralities, like there are flags.

    In conclusion, you can't change what your ancestors did or were, but you too can learn from them and abandon the idea of a flag and what it supposedly stands for and become like them, a global citizen, and make the world a better place. They did, you can too. That's all the pride you'll ever need.
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      Jul 8 2013: Social order, like that provided by the US Constitution, is not natural. Natural "order" would have leaders choose themselves. That leads to oppressive power structures, human classes, etc.

      A country's borders define the area where its Constitution, or template for social order, is in effect. A flag is just a reminder that one is in that area.

      The world is too big and too complex to have one central government or charter. 200+ different states in a primordial political soup allows an evolution of ideas to be tested in practice and compared for all to see and share.

      True, we have many commonalities ... one species. But also true that we can differentiate the smallest differences. So, subjectively, we can be judged as diverse as required by ones point of view.
      • Jul 8 2013: the usa still has not solved plato's problem... "who's watching the watchers". The greeks were many things, athens was a democratic trading empire hegemonically enforcing supremacy in the delian league... they f'ed up in a ways that destroyed themselves (try Aristotle's "the athenian constitution, it's short and easy.) Rome cut through the greek bickering w/the dictators sword, quite satisfying the exercise of near absolute power, but it drove them mad. democracies are terrible when they are at peace too long, the urge to tyranny typically follows... as democracy often follows republics. Education was supposed to be the usa's safeguard from the 'worst form of government" alas. thucydides is excellent too.
      • Jul 9 2013: Bob, read history, flags of what ever kind go back far beyond area's, they also cover ideals, religions, but for the most part rampant nationalism is driven by the flag.

        How many flags did you see after 9/11, would you even dare not to have one. And those that didn't have them on their cars, like the Asian man who lived in Arizona, well he's dead.

        People believe they need something to follow, and for the power brokers that realize this, a flag is manna from heaven.
  • Jul 7 2013: Wow, Don, this conversation hits home for me.

    I am an ex-patriot, and a "third culture kid". i was born in the States and moved to Holland when I was 15. When Holland changed the law to abolish dual-nationality, I renounced my American nationality to remain in Holland, to be near my family, and to continue living in the country I had become an adult in, where I knew my way around, where I felt I had the best chances of survival.

    Now, let me stress, I have never felt fully at home here. But I have never felt truly at home in America either. Have a Dutch passport that says I was born in Henrietta, NY. I often say, "You can take the girl out of America, but you can't take America out of the girl", because being American to me, is pretty hard to dilute with other cultures. It remains prominent, even after more than 20 years, when I speak English, I do so with an American accent, which always gives me away...

    I often referred to my life as "before" and "after" I moved to Europe, and clung onto the "terminally unique" idiosyncrasy of being a Third Culture Kid as a desperate attempt to form an identity, other than being 'just American', as if that wasn't enough to encompass who I really was. Silly, in retrospect. But for me, it was how to fit in as a teenager in another country. I didn't want to be different!

    I think I am now more American than I have ever been, after living in Holland for more than 20 years, which is ironically longer than I ever lived in America. Accepting my roots, understanding my heritage and respecting the country where I was born took time, effort, and perspective. After years of 'hiding' my nationality, I have finally embraced it.
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      Jul 8 2013: I’m 50ish and as this thread indicates I’m just at the start of my journey to understand my heritage and its meaning in my life. I understand the feeling “I have never felt fully at home here”, for I listen to the news and others-I-know and I feel the same way. And yet I can drive a few hours into farmland and small-towns and feel right at home.
      We never loss the culture of our informative years: so it’s not silly at all, and I say embrace your uniqueness. I fought many of my unique experiences in life, and found embracing my own uniqueness has made my life journey more rewarding and meaningful.
  • Jul 4 2013: July 4th is upon us all. Many are happy and some are saddened.

    I think that once you have lost your son's and son's-in-laws to WAR,
    and America’s leadership keeps on making one WAR after another,
    your head starts asking your mouth to speak against such insanity.

    American parents who gave away their sons and daughters seldom
    get more than brief recognition for their children’s deaths, except
    those times when they bring the bodies home, calling them all “Hero’s”.

    July 4th is tomorrow. Americans will listen to Speeches and shake
    hands with the perpetrators of those many WARs that have stolen
    millions or more lifetimes of our loved ones.

    We've as a nation been involved in 56 or so armed conflicts since WW2.
    Our nation as a result of the costs of doing battle has become bankrupt.
    This Bankruptcy is not just about money. Living sons and daughters,
    with bright futures, are no more. They have become America’s gore.

    The Spoils of War, is the other side of the coin, never truly exposed by our
    leaders, nor Hollywood nor any Media. Americans never ask, Why !!!
    Why did my son or daughter have to die so that the Spoils of War could be
    quietly accepted by Banks who finance WARs, and unknown non-soldiers
    who stay in the shadows???

    American movie makers make popular wondrous films, without any
    thought about what horrors occurred that give them what they depict.
    Their movies are made with the newest of technology, and their Drones
    come in all sizes and shapes, to be used to kill from afar. American movies
    show Leaders of make-believe nations, pushing buttons, and shaking
    the hands of movie-star strike force leaders, who were “just doing their job".
    Then everyone goes to lunch... "Cut"

    Being an American is not always fun.
    • Jul 4 2013: Sorry. War means loans, sucks up surplus paper and forstalls deflationary depression... at the cost of pensions etc.
      • Jul 4 2013: wblakesx, Thank you
        Your right. But just not right enough.
        My family lost 5 uncles to a German submarine in WW2.

        I notice there is no accountability from our American elected
        democratic government for making multiple WARs upon
        other nation's shores, 56+ times since 1945.

        I suppose being a cry baby over spilt blood isn't a kosher way
        to support our July 4th American anniversary of our Federation.
        But in the last 20 years we have lost more Individual Freedoms
        through our American Government's sleights of hand than in
        the prior 217+ years.

        So you folks out there celebrate to your hearts content. For now.
        • Jul 5 2013: I live in the tropical torturers', killers, haven, Florida USA (homestead is exempt from most legal actions) and the Batistazeroes have great USA gov support... banks, fbi, cia, nsa, bushs etc etc. Don't tell me about Syria... I remember Guatemala inter alia
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    Jun 28 2013: Building on my point below, that we are world citizens before we are the citizens of any country, I would think the same things that make us good world citizens make us good Americans: practicing love, kindness, tolerance.
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    Jun 27 2013: The American ideal is vastly different from the American lifestyle of today. Being an American simply means you reside in America.

    Don't get hung up on what it means to be an American, define yourself. If you can proudly say that you are a morally and ethically bound individual with strong convictions for doing what you perceive is right and just with a track record that reflects your ability to hold strong to those ideals, then you are a humane individual with common decency who also happens to be an American or whatever nationality you claim.
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    Jun 27 2013: Dear Don,
    How about trying not to "should" on yourself?

    We are multi sensory, multi dimensional human beings, with many thoughts, feelings, ideas and beliefs. We can believe in several different ideas at the same time, so it doesn't have to feel conflicted. For example, I am against war, and I support those people who have courageously fought wars....often for freedom.

    Do you think/feel you can continue having pride in your heritage, while not having pride for some other behaviors that may also be part of your heritage? I am proud of my father for example, for fighting in WWII. I am not proud of him for his abusive behavior with his family. We can be clear about the behaviors that we are proud of, and those we are not proud of.....make any sense?
    • Jun 27 2013: Colleen, I have concluded that you must be far wiser than I am, seriously, because i usually agree and disagree with your comments.

      I completely agree that we can be ashamed of some behaviors and proud of others.

      But right now our bombs are killing citizens of Pakistan, our purported ally. Some of those victims are innocent bystanders, some are children. If a Pakistani were to ask me what it means to me to be an American, I would hope to have a better answer than conflicted thoughts and feelings, but I cannot, even after a great deal of thought. I admire the confidence with which Pat Gilbert can describe what it means to him. Perhaps that is the true meaning of being an American, continuing to believe in the ideals that our government seems to be bent on destroying. To me, that answer seems too easy and too self serving. I think a Pakistani, even an educated Pakistani, familiar with our history, would find it confusing at best and perhaps sadly naive.

      Considering the current situation in this country, I think this question deserves serious deliberation by all Americans. Perhaps the answer will point to a better path. Pat Gilbert's answer certainly does.
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        Jun 27 2013: Barry,
        I do not think even for a second that I am wiser than you. It seems like we are often on the same page, in my perception.

        I am not proud of killing people....especially innocent people. I certainly do not agree with all the decisions our government makes, nor am I often very proud of our government. That being said, I am proud of those who are willing to put their lives on the line for their/our country.

        In my travels through other countries, people always seem friendly and loving to me and traveling companions, and they often express something very different about our government. In my experience, however, people in other countries clearly separate individuals from our government's decisions. There have been plenty of times that I feel embarrassed by decisions my government has made, and it is not a mystery to me why the US is not a favorite among the world population.
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      Jun 27 2013: Thanks Colleen,
      Your post does make a lot of sense, and putting into context of a person’s good/bad behaviors is a train of thought I’m going to take.
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        Jun 27 2013: Don,
        To follow up on Barry's comment, we can also consider a governments good/bad behaviors? Do we judge all the people in a country based on the decisions a government makes?
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    Jul 24 2013: Just saw the update; thanks for the addition!

    I think our large diversity causes our nation to be 'great'. Our diversity allows us to bring different cultures and experiences into one nation. I'm going to use this TED community as an example, since nation smoothly seems complex—which I have little to no idea on how to run a nation even badly. I'll try to make some parallelisms to running a nation, but just heads up I really don't know much about running a nation.

    The starting question, debate, or idea in this forum could be compared to a particular goal or problem of the government. Someone is presenting a problem and it is up to the community to try to find and maybe decide (if possible) a possible solution that might work. Our diversity helps in that we will most likely get many answers that solve the problem adequately. If we had little diversity, many of answers most likely would be similar and our options would be few. The main difference in this parallel is that a nation would try out these solutions. While TEDsters (is there a more official name... TEDinese...TEDians...TEDers...anyway) may put these philosophies and ideas to use in the real world, much of this forum is theoretical (not knocking it), so many possible solutions (due to the diversity) may not be as easily seen as a plus. In a nation, diversity of plausible solutions is easily seen as an advantage as they put the solution into action. If one solution does not work, they have many others that they can try that are more or less unique. If the solution doesn't work with a less diverse population—and therefore less diverse solutions— however, the nation won't have many other solutions to try out. In addition, this diversity of solutions is advantageous because while one solution may work for a particular era, it may as well not be adequate for the next era, so another solution can be tried out from the pool of diverse solution from earlier.

    Again let me know if I need to expand or clarify!
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      Jul 24 2013: Good comments.

      The deeper you dig into diversity the more you discover the benefits and find fewer flaws.

      Nearly everyone who comes to America is economically poor. My ancestor came to America in 1634 he raised 19 children (5 orphans from a deceased brother).

      All he had in his will were a few acres of land and a few household trinkets.

      His treasure was those 19 children. Those 19 (children /children) started Mormon Church, included Eli Whitney, Henry Morse. John Trull, Revolutionary War, Joshua Chamberlain Civil War hero.... and me.

      In our people is where Americas wealth and future resides.

      Greatness starts from humble beginnings and brotherly love.

      America is living proof of that... as so am I.
  • Jul 24 2013: I believe in Win - Win. I think it is the basis for all trade. Both parties usually benefit otherwise they will not continue to trade. There is more profit in making the other person happy. You can screw people one time or you can mutually profit over the course of a lifetime. Which makes more sense?

    Now as to the slave trade; not good. Nor the hard drug trade, big pharma , big food , etc.. Business is not some paradise, but it does allow people from different backgrounds to engage with one another.
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      Jul 24 2013: Screwing the other guy for as long as possible makes more sense for the one doing the screwing.

      Trade is not win-win. It's winner take all based on competitive advantage. It's creates imbalances. You couldn't get half the World starving and the other half overweight without it.

      What evidence do you have to the contrary?
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        Jul 24 2013: Strictly based on that comment I say you’re in public education and single.
        The only industry that does not desire repeat customers that I can think of is public education.
        And single because without a win-win mindset second dates are rare. ;)
  • Jul 24 2013: What does it mean to be an American, and why does it work?

    It means we agree on a few things, and have set up a system to preserve that agreement. That, despite our differences, is the fundamental thing that makes us American. It works because we keep working at it. We make it work because we believe in it, and we believe because we have seen the benefits. We have the evidence that it works.

    That's it.
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      Jul 24 2013: Well said. I criticize America because I believe in it and believe we can make it better.
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        Jul 24 2013: That would be the bully boss management system, and it has been proven the most unproductive management style.
      • Jul 25 2013: So what's your criticism? How do you propose to make us better?
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    Jul 23 2013: Don, it could be that the free and the brave outnumber the tyrants, cowards, passive, aggressive, moral and immoral people. That coupled with traditions built upon colourful history could be all there is to it. There are many countries that are similar to the United States.

    Freedom is never free. It cost blood, sweat and tears. We are seeing this in many parts of the world, the blood, sweat and tears part-- as people pursue democracy. It's a shame it has to be that way.

    I think why it works is less important then the fact we are willing to die in order to protect and share it with others.

    I'm hoping for the best --that the world will become one democratic planet.
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    Jul 19 2013: The United States was the first nation founded on the principle that the governed—We the People—are the source of all power and authority, eliminating the subjugation of both the throne and the altar. Our revolutionary history laid the foundation for many of the attitudes we still see today, including those of brashness, egalitarianism, individuality and self-reliance. Apart from the original inhabitants, Americans have historically been known for emphasizing the unit over the group, and by representing a broad range of political, religious and cultural peculiarities. Americans, if they are honest, typically recognize the values of pluralism over oligarchy, of hard work over leisure and of merit over privilege. To be an American means, in my view, holding dear the liberties we enjoy, and accommodating—hopefully welcoming—diversity, including that of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. Despite periodic setbacks and lapses, Americans share a legacy of relentless innovation and improvement, and we should recognize that no problem (economic, societal, environmental, political, etc.) is too daunting, if we focus our attention on it.
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    Jul 18 2013: A lot of the things you mentioned in your post are not real, they are perceptions but this is not restricted to America alone.

    Ask yourself what influences your perceptions.

    I think that a lot of this sort of rhetoric is based on generalisations and stereotypes perpetuated by a media obsessed with emotive and evocative tripe . They are, for the most part, hollow and meaningless sound bytes.

    Is it a side-effect of 80 years of television and even more of film?

    I find it confusing that there is so much talk about a global village and yet people are still so territorial about where they come from.

    I realise it's tied up with identity but I would have thought people would have evolved beyond such narrow perceptions of the self by now.
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      Jul 22 2013: LOL, I don’t want to divert into what is real tangent, there tons of TED conversations on that. It’s not real until it’s observed, if you can’t measure it’s not real, unless it makes you feel etc etc etc ;) LOL.

      I will say meaningless sound bytes are nothing new, I’ll point to these campaign slogans as an example.
      http://www.presidentsusa.net/campaignslogans.html

      Personally I don’t Care for the term “global-village”, but there is truth in it. Generally for humans that care about the “global-village”, being territorial is about being protective of their culture, and not their land. And for many part of their culture is to help all of mankind, and not just their own. So really being global and cultural is one in the same.

      P.S. speaking of real vs. perceptions, you need to check-out todays TED talk.
      http://www.ted.com/talks/john_searle_our_shared_condition_consciousness.html
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        Jul 24 2013: I think the general sense of some cultures helping all of mankind, and not just their own. comes with the baggage of accepting the culture of the helpers. If you don't, you most likely will be excluded, especially if there is some culture clash associated with the relationship.
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    • Jul 22 2013: 2pence... I can't think of an aggregation of a million or more that I wouldn't often be ashamed of. When I look at the crimes of religions, nations etc I feel my pride or respect for the honoured ones quite neutralized... Anything good, if it is powerful and exists for a few years will attract the most awful people who will use it to their advantage. The process of great power maintenance and/or enlargement is too frequently murderous.
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      Jul 24 2013: Thank you Deepak Behl,

      I know I will need some form of meditation in the future, and Rajyog meditation sounds like one that fits my style.

      I have an abnormal path with meditation; 10 years ago I got Dx. with a health issue and without realizing it I had a type of “brain fog” I was like having horse-blinders for my thoughts.
      It was lifted 2-yrs ago thanks to a new medication, and that is when I noticed the difference.
      So for those roughly 8-yrs I was in a type of meditation (24-7) and ploughed deeply in the meaning of life type questions. So for now I feel my path is to be fully involved in the world, and to find answer without thought-blinders on.
      Via experiences like starting this TED conversation, but it is highly likely Rajyog meditation will be part of my path.
      So again thank you.
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    Jul 17 2013: I'm reasserting my premise. You must go to the roots of American independence from Britain, to get a clear picture. All the clichés muddy the waters. Being an American starts with the basic premise that, "all men are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights". While I make no excuse, for the irony, and depravity of American slavery, the premise behind our evolution,and revolution is still there. Despite all the bigotry, violence, disagreements, and confusion, it was the concept of individual, egalitarian freedom that makes us Americans. We know we have huge problems, and we know we are not the only ones to fight for freedom. America was the first nation to discard the aristocratic dominance of society by Kings, and their descendants. This was the first society in history that put it in writing, in the constitution, and bill of rights. It allowed any industrious person to rise up from nothing to become whatever they sought to be. We have surely stumbled many times, but that is the true meaning of (American) The massive movements of immigrants clouds the vision, from time to time. We wretch in suspicion, and tribalism, in fits, and starts, eventually, finding equilibrium. Each generation however, colors, and enriches the constitution, and society in beautiful new ways. Inalienable human rights, and egalitarian freedom is still the vision for 330,000,000 people. It's a work in progress, the inevitable culmination of a society comprised of people from cultures, and body types from around the world. We do not live in a perfect world, but we have a chance, and most importantly a (choice) to make a more perfect union, if we have the intelligence, good will, and courage to do so. The more America chooses to aspire to that ideal, the more successful we become. The demons of aristocracy, ruthless totalitarianism, and tribalism, may obstruct us occasionally,but In the end the peoples rights, and our original principles will prevail.
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      Jul 17 2013: Thank you for sharing your wisdom,
      I started thinking my dilemma was just a lesion, just like I have experienced in the past. (I’ll expand on that later*) But I now see it as a guide to a new path I need to take, with some lesions I needed for that path.
      Your right I have a fighting spirit and thanks to this thread I now understand what was holding me back. Currently the USA is in a civil war of cultures, and the other side had me believing that they had already won. I will take this new path and I now realize more than ever knowledge and ideas are the strongest weapons.

      * I feel the need to share an experience/lesion I had a few years ago; in just a three month time frame 4 people I knew and my pet had died, with my mother-in-law and pet dying for wasting syndrome (Cachexia) from old age. I struggle for month trying to understand why the reward for living a long live would be such an ugly death.
      Then one evening I fell asleep watching a documentary on India, and it most have been on Buddha at the time. (P.S. you should be proud to be an Indian) when I awoke I realized their death was only ugly from my viewpoint, and reality they were letting go of all earthly desires to gain enlightenment.
      So the reward for a long life is enlightenment, and I now see its beauty.
      So I started this thread hoping for a grand revelation to the meaning of life, but instead I’m guided to a path that will give meaning to life.
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          Jul 22 2013: What can I say; I’m just a recovering victim of public education and I’m guessing by your anti-American virtues stance you’re a public school teacher. That or you’re equally negative to all of mankind’s virtues and history.

          And in response to all your comments, and just this one; may I respectfully suggest (and I know this will sound corny, but) try to learn to love yourself. Happiness does not come diminishing of others, but from looking within and finding your own meaning in life.
      • Jul 23 2013: "experience/lesion I had " ... lesion or lesson? :)
  • Jul 16 2013: For a foreigner like me, to be an American meant that you lived in a country "under the rule of law" where you were "protected by the laws of the land". To see your president dismiss the veredict of the judicial sistem and for political gain harness the enormous power of the federal goberment to try to punish this Zimmerman guy on behalf of the "Al Shapton" cartoon caracters of your society is very disconserting.
    • Jul 22 2013: there's a history that ratifies Obama's comments.
      I'm going to bring up an uncomfortable topic. Most large societies have their factions notably "conservative' and 'progressive'. Conservatives say everythings great about the country WE"RE GREAT!!!!!!!... except for thos who don't like us. Progressives say, ' Dammit, people ar getting hurt the way things are going' !!!!... and we nhae a right and duty to try to change things. C's say AMERICA IS GREAT, we just need to get rid of all the America Haters, get back to the old days. P's say We have a start but we need to get back to the old days, what's going on now stinks.
      In walks a foreigner. Who will he side with in his public statements when?
      Note that C's Hate much of what America is, so do P's, so do Foreigners. Yet they, We, all want to preserve it.
      C's P's have very odd constructs of time, nation, freedom etc. Seems the more free a people are the tougher the government has to be. So many fairey tales, so much bs flying around. N America history is half lies, the news is ridiculous, the politicians ... are as popular as commies, witches, masons, royalists, gays, blacks, japs, muslims, feriners, indians,... used car salesmen...schools are ridiculous... what a great country.
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        Jul 22 2013: bs
        • Jul 23 2013: why is it so important to be great without accepting criticism?


          separately let me prcis my post above... a new boy should measure 10 times before he cuts once. When in Rome... but Romans were of all types too, the plebs looked poor, the patricians and their 'patriotic' sycophants (party) looked fine... but virtue and vice are not determined by status. Look at the origins of latifundia then think about usa imports and militarization.
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        Jul 23 2013: LOL, sorry for just giving a bs reply. My mischievous side wanted to show you what its like.

        As a Conservative I know I’m far from GREAT! and personally I say the US conservative party is controlled by a bunch of RINOs and is just a puppet party to give citizens the illusion of a two party system.
        But I believe the founding principles are great, unlike many progressive that calm they are BS.
        Did Conservatives get rid of the King loyalist after the US revolution? Or did the Conservatives get rid of the progressive/Democrats after they lost the US Civil war? NO!
        So saying we conservative just want to get rid of haters is baseless. In fact it is the democrats that said Bush voters should be put on trains and sent to reeducation camps.

        And calling US Democrats progressive is also baseless; you just need to look at their public work projects to see that. It’s simple when the government creates great things happen, and when government manages stagnation happens. When the highway, railroad, school, communication system where created great thing happen. But under government management they stagnate. Unlike when government turns systems over to the private sector, like what happen the phone systems in the 80s and the space program now. Democrats want government management over highways, bridges, health care, education, internet, communication, and etc, and yet have never proposed the creation of anything but more management power.

        And please stop talking as if the US started slavery, the Europeans started African slavery and the American Indians had took slaves from warring tribes, and do you think American Indians would have been better off under Aztec rule?

        Sorry for the rant, I’m just saying the founding principles are great, and not that we are doing a great job of living up to them.
        • Jul 24 2013: I say bs, when a detailed reply is a waste, partic since am far from fluent in my typing. You doubtless often catch when people lay 'happy talk', the kind that ignores the down side, on you or others. When I say 'bs' I'm simply pointing out the tale is one-sided.
          'Bs' is far from the worst I've had said or some have said to me.

          "Founding principles"? If you study the period critically I think you will find they were nowhere near what most N Americas post WW1 believe them to be. Look to the right to vote and tax revolts for a start, the rippoffs and corruption, etc. What can one say about those who revolted for the freedom to own others, forbade laws limiting speech and quickly passed the anti-sedition act which did just that, made the most massive real estate killing (literally) of all time...again and again and again etc

          Dems are too entrenched to be progressive, there is at least a progressive wing... it would be nice if they were heard and restrained appropriately by a responsible right.

          Usa industrialized slavery.. put it in a most barbaric form. Germans long had slvery, arabs too, but the slaves were often better off than the workers... same for the us , many slaves were materially better off than the irish (who were after all the victims of intentional genocidal land clearings if you look at the history a bit closely. But then genocide and slavery are 'conservative' at least in the 'southern strategy'.

          I t may sound odd but I think of myself as deeply conservative in many senses,
          since most positions in the present fracas (not debate!) have been around for at least 2200 years; some go back to egypt and sumeria. But, I believe to be truly conservative we have to take account of changing circumstances.

          I do not support the parties. Half of what we are most sure of is total bs. It makes me reject current values. repubs regulate at least as much as dems> Bureaucracies are one of the biggest problem, and not because they are not, often, necessar
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      Jul 24 2013: Oh no... another USA basher. They appear to be growing in pairs on TED these days. We can be talking about chicken farming and they will try to turn it to how our government is trying to destroy all the other countries chicken farms.
  • Jul 13 2013: Americans are labeled as "racist and intolerant" because that serves the propaganda purposes of those who would wage war upon the USA. In addition, unlike every other country in the world, we do not sweep our problems under the rug. We are honest about what we do. Thus, it is easy to point us out as the Great Satan. See how "tolerant" communist China is of Catholics who don't belong to their little pet church. See how "tolerant" the Muslim countries are of open atheists. See how "tolerant" African tribes are of neighboring tribes. The USA does not have Hutu-Tutsi type conflicts and has not had such things for roughly two centuries. Yes, we have committed crimes in the past--but they are in the past. On the other hand, the rest of the world wallows and glories in its racism and intolerance, all the while pointing at the USA as the only "racist and intolerant" country in the world.
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    Jul 11 2013: What it means to be an American has 7,000,000,000 different answers. If your someone who's neighborhood was just hit by a drone strike you might have one opinion. If your a Wall Street hedge fund manager, you might have another. There's the philosophical meaning, and there's the perspective view. The meaning, has blurred, and turned into an amorphous blob of confusion, and conflict. What it means to be an American is dependent on where you sit. The (American dream ) is a Madison avenue invention, a giant pile of advertising goo. It doesn't exist, and never has, except in the mind of propagandists. For those with the $$$$ background, the education, the connections the skies the limit. If your born to illiterate, or barely literate parents, struggling to survive things are a bit different. One has to have extraordinary drive, intelligence, and luck to climb out of the dregs. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, comes to mind. What an American is today is really up for debate. That's why were here at TED . The answer today, is very different from my childhood that's for sure. Most Americans you meet on the street, I'd venture to say, couldn't pass the citizenship test on their first try. One thing I will say. We have the most guns, bombs, jets, missiles, submarines, Rangers, Seals, Snipers, Agents, operators, snoops, spooks, satellites, meta data, the most murders, the most pollution per capita, don't forget we outsourced most of that, The highest teen pregnancy rates of industrialized countries, The highest drop out rates, the biggest wealth disparity, and a whole bunch of other great stuff . That's us! "USA" "USA" "USA" "USA"! You gotta love us, or we'll hunt you down sucker. Even with all her problems, I still lover her, I just wish she'd get some counseling, before we run ourselves in the ditch again. Drinking, and driving don't mix.
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      Jul 24 2013: I think it is more important for US citizens to determine how "they" feel about themselves before considering how others do. Self-determination is important.
      Pride in being born in America is cherished to a large degree. Immigrants who get their citizenship here also appear to adopt this feeling of pride. In my neighbourhood, there are people from all over the world. All are American citizens. They all act the same and appear Americanized to a large degree. Or, maybe that's just the way all people are and each culture takes it to mean acceptance of their national culture. I will say that Islamic people don't appear to accept the social norms of western culture too visibly.
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        Jul 24 2013: Human beings are after all biological beings for the most part, at least in this dimension. We gather together in groups for protection, and to see the extension of ourselves in the neighborhood, and our families. I was recently watching a marvelous video The Life Of The Cell, done by Harvard University.It is a computer generated cartoon describing the chemotaxis, and structural components of living cells. I recommend it. It occurred to me that we act, and react with great similarity to the most basic components of ourselves when interacting with our environment. We ward off foreign bodies that may capture our DNA, or damage the cell. We put out macrophages to consume, and recycle our adversaries. We replicate exchanging chemical information, and we read the chemical signals from different cells with different purposes to maintain the whole being, to act in unity for the reproduction of the parts. We seek comfort, warmth, food, and most of all survival.

        Anyone who is outside the narrow 20th century interpretation of American are here for a variety of reasons, marriage, school, work,or nefarious reasons, "imagine that". Mostly though they are here because they weren't able to make a viable living to survive in the (old world). Egypt for example has more than fifty percent of it's population under 30 years of age. Like other nations outside the industrialized world they are suffering terribly at $2.00 a day, "if that", since the revolution. They came from a land of hardships, and hard choices, to leave and seek sustenance or stay and beg, or die. This is the case in general for much of the world now as resources become scarce. The cartels that pull the purse strings have made sure that they have a ready supply of of sacrificial cells available to fight off threats. We average sloggers here already, have been relegated to the collection of sacrificial cells as well. They cling to what they know out of the same desires, and biological need we have.
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          Jul 24 2013: Some, including myself, would argue that humans are simply biological machines. We break down, can be repaired ( to some extent), and eventually, break down entirely, requiring disposal. I know that sounds a bit callous but it is what it is.

          As to immigrants, I do notice that people such as Egyptians, who immigrate here, tend to work harder and fare better (financially) than naturalized Citizens. In the US your heritage is not largely considered a factor in how much money you can make. In some countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia, they do limit your financial options.
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        Jul 24 2013: If one breaks the concept of a (deity) down to it's primordial core I would not denounce them. The fundamentalism prevalent today has raised it's ugly head many times in history. Absolute unyielding commitment to a single book, however profound looses my support. In my opinion that is the essence of madness. Our nation was founded by people who understood that. Outside of criminal acts, and violence, what a man does in the sanctity of his own house, his own family, his own place of worship is of no consequence to others. The resistance to assimilation stems from the ignorant, and misplaced hostility towards all new groups. When my great grandfather stepped off the boat from County Cork to take the place of a wealthy New Hampshire business man in the US civil war, he was regarded as a monkey. The signs, on the blue blood streets of Boston read "Irishmen, and dogs keep of the grass." They will in time assimilate as all others have. The Europeans had more in common and therefore assimilated more quickly, and they had no choice during the brutal times of robber baron control, and civil war
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          Jul 24 2013: I understand your feelings. My heritage is extreme northern European --direct descendent of the Druids. The Druids were caught on the northern side of the ices sheet during the last Ice age. We learned to cope. The Irish, of course, descended from us. I have Hemochromotosis, (The Irish Curse), a genetic blood disorder.

          The concept of Blue Bloodedness has been replaced by the notion of wealth as an indicator of social worth. Hopefully, that will be replaced by a more general assessment if a Technocratic society takes over, which is where we are headed as I understand it. It is becoming politically fashionable in Italy today. I hope it spreads fast. The US, China and Russia, will probably be the last nations to adopt this type of social government. Which is sad, perhaps a bit bit arrogant of their wealthy class Managers.
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    Jul 9 2013: I am not an American but, from my point of view, America rapresents the human race. It is the place where all nationalities live as one, American!
    Do you guys have problems?? Sure you do. Who doesn't?!
    You guys have the biggest guns and, with that you have a lot of responsibilities.
    A diversified nation. You guys should be proud.

    cheers
    • Jul 15 2013: Yup,it is the most advantage for being american who all natonalities live as one.Definitely being American you guys should be proud of that.

      Meanwhile it is also a disvantage to be aware of.How much racial prejudice still keep amond people's consciousness there?That is good to see equality been advocated the mainstream there.But being equal and respected not only work in words but also more in people's ideological education
  • Jul 8 2013: As an american living abroad, there is such a thing as being American. There is an American culture just like there are cultures in any society. There are multiple cultures in the United States as well.

    There may not be one overarching "American Culture" but there is not one overarching culture in any country. This is pretty blatant if you live in a place like Berlin, which I am. When I lived in Wales, it was clear there was not one "Welsh Culture" either.

    Part of being an American is coming from everywhere. And yes, there is nothing wrong with being proud of your pre-American heritage. Most people are proud of their heritage and history.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that American or any country or culture is not one thing. It is a hodgepodge of values, traditions, beliefs, shared experiences, etc.

    As for your experience number 2:
    (1) The american government is hypocritical. Read our Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence and look at our current policy. Also, something about the NSA?? Yeah, we are. But honestly, every country is hypocritical, some are just more so than others.

    Just because the US has faults (because it does), that does not mean it is bad. First of all, every country has faults. You could love the values the US was founded on and still acknowledge that right now the US Government is abiding by them.

    P.S. The whole no slave owners in your ancestry thing is not possible to tell. I know that in the last 500 years none of my ancestors had slaves. That being said, no one has any idea who there ancestors were during Roman, Greek, Egyptian or heck, even Mesopotamian times. So, no one can every know if there entire lineage dating back to prehistoric times had slaves or not. Chances are, your ancestors did have slaves sometime in the last 10 thousand years.
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    Jul 8 2013: To Do Anderson:

    Please recheck your facts.I have great doubts that your noble English ancestors who arrived in 1663 did not own slaves.It was the practice of the day that most ,if not all, English nobleman ( including the so -called founding fathers --what a moral dilemma for or nation) in the 16th,17th,18th did own African slaves and or had indentured Irish servants ; as well as had usurped ,or simply put, stolen land from the Native Peoples.That explains why most Americans of English ancestry would have had a stock of ill-gotten loot of land and free labor on which they built the economic activities of agriculture,small scale industries ( e.g Thomas Jefferson and George Washington had large tracts of land and a small nail-making venture ; both based on free labor and free land which he owned and or added from his marriage--George Washington also ,I read in William C F Pierce.YOUR LOTTERY TICKET that George Washington was a Commissioner Of The Lottery where the winning prize was free African Slaves). And these stock of wealth was passed down inter-generational for many years.
    The economy in general benefited from such an immoral arrangement.But those people of early English nobleman or common ancestry ( from the colonial and later days) directly would up to present were at birth privileged and benefited from ill-gotten land and labor factors in their property assets.

    It is not clear if in your particular case the same was true from that part of your ancestry.
    Again; my point is to acknowledge what had generally happened in history and what was the norm . We should acknowledge the brutality and exploitation that occurred in our tortured history We should therefore not wonder that a large part of the landed gentry and the earlier barons of industry, mining,transportation and agricultural plantations would be people of English ancestry .And; on the other hand the opposite prevails in The Native Peoples and in African American population sector
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      Jul 8 2013: There may be a yet an undiscovered slave owner, most were Missouri farmers and many fought for the union army. My English noble ancestor that came to America in 1633, was John Neville and he was a planter. You can Google “John Neville born in 1612” for the full story.

      My guess is that he was not the oldest son, like my another ancestor David Traill, son of “William Traill 1650” from Scotland.
      Although William was not nobility he did have a nice estate, and as normal in that time it all went to the oldest son and David came the America to make his way. I also have an ancestor sent the America in bondage for being a supporter of King James II.

      So even though there where American slave owners, most were not exploiters, brutal and/or slave owners.
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    Jul 8 2013: To Sean Quigly:
    You say "...America started great--the first real democracy.... ".
    That statement should be taken with caution and acknowledgement.
    Notwithstanding the fact that our constitution was and is one of the greatest historical living documents; we should also acknowledge that in practice America in 1776 was not a democracy.A large segment of its population or most of its citizens were excluded from its political life--namely women , African Americans and Native Peoples --it was a unilateral declaration of independence from Britain with large parts of the American public population under bondage. Voting rights was successively extended /allowed to women ;to Native Americans and lastly ; in 1964 African Americans were granted their right to vote with the passage of THE VOTING RIGHTS BILL by congress.
    When you reflect on it; it was only about 50 years to date (2013-1964) that America became a full-fledged democracy.What is a democracy that does not fully protect all the rights of its minorities--the majority have the tools to protect their rights embedded in their numbers,their economic and political clout.
    What I would say is let us acknowledge and learn from history as it happened and let us make it evolve into a yet better democracy as time goes by.
    • Jul 8 2013: It was far less a democracy than that.... it was an aristocracy with a high property hurdle to the vote. And the soldiers who fought got the shaft. Tom Paine had to run . The rev was a swindle
  • Jul 7 2013: Being American used to mean something. Let me assure you that nowadays it means nothing.
    America is mostly controlled by the wealthiest white people in the world; yes white people. Multinational corporations would like to take our rights away so they can exploit us for profit. Same with the govermnent though the government doesn't need to be as subtle about it.

    America started off great: the first real democracy; but is evolving into something worse: a mock democracy. The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves no doubt. If men like that were still in power, it would be truly different. America fell out of the hands of visionaries into greedy lobbyists.
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      Jul 7 2013: Be careful not to buy into the straw man meme, instead look at the one pointing to the straw man. In any case don't allow it to take your eye off of your own goals, which are all that really matter.
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      Jul 24 2013: I disagree. Being an American means everything to me. Our evolution is not in one direction only. While in College, I did a poll for my political science class. The question was wither on not you supported the Death Penalty. I decide, at the end of my poll to go back and re-poll everyone. The results were surprising. Most of those that supported the Penalty, after discussion with their peers, had a turn around, and so it was with those that opposed it.

      My deduction was that people change their minds, after the question is asked, and they've had time to consider it.

      So it is with American Democracy. After we are exposed to changes, we sometimes swing around the other way. In that sense, we are constantly evolving in our political thought. My mother and her generation have different ideas about nationalism. They saw America come together in a time of great peril, WWII. I lost two three uncles in that conflict. One killed on the island of Iwo Jima and the other two due to Alcoholism after the war. She has always grown a garden and feeds herself and her immediate family from it. She saw a time when food was scarce (ration cards) during that war and that is what people did. Her kids (us) are not so diligent but we all have a garden. Only one generation separates her political evolution from mine. So I don't think it is fair to call us despotic in light of her generations activities and appreciation of Democracy. Our soldiers in the recent wars also answered the call and fought for democracy in other nations. One day, those men and women will have a voice in how this nation will form and their experience will be a factor in that resolution. There is always a transition of power to the upcoming generation. That way things don't always stay the same.


      Thoughts do change faster these days but so does changing our minds.
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    Jul 5 2013: My thoughts:

    o The US Constitution is the template for the social order in the United States. It is unique. It's creation was a miracle in that the founders had a chance at a clean slate. I do not think this can happen again.

    o People who are citizens of the United States are labeled as "Americans". That really is the only definition that is meaningful. There is no "American" culture. The only "American" thing we have in common is the social order created by the Constitution.

    o People who live within the US boarders may choose what cultural elements to identify with. They may be part of any culture or mix of cultures in the world. They may even define their own. We may may practice assimilation or pluralism and are free form any association we want.

    o Every one has their own personal heritage. As an American our only heritage is how we have preserved the Constitution and improved it via amendments.

    o I think it is OK to feel pleasure for our county's achievements and your own personal or ancestral achievements. This reinforces good behavior and encourages others.
    • Jul 5 2013: "o The US Constitution is the template for the social order in the United States. It is unique. It's creation was a miracle in that the founders had a chance at a clean slate. I do not think this can happen again. "

      Didn't/doesn't help blacks much... indians (ie indigenoe Americans)
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        Jul 5 2013: Very true as far as "it didn't" not so much "doesn't". The original US Constitution contain the 3/5th compromise. "Indians" were not counted at all. Slavery existing in the land now call the United States starting in 1619 a full 170 years before the US Constitution. Slavery's abrupt removal at the time of ratification would have caused the Constitution and the US not to exist. 76 years after the ratification ended, slavery ended .. but that was not the end of suffering.

        The Constitution provided a way to end slavery. That is important. The slavery system collapsed world wide as a result. Many knew the abolition of slavery would be catastrophic. It was an evil institution that became a part of the body. Removing it was put off as long as possible. 615,000 lost lives later it was accomplished. The Constitution has evolved to correct itself.

        The decedents of slavery are still suffering. 148 years is not enough time to heal the wounds. I suspect another 100 years won't be enough time.

        I believe that the US Constitution defies human behavior as illustrated above. Many many people have been enslaved., non as brutally, perhaps, as what occurred on the US land. But few societies survived getting rid of it.

        The 600 nations that have occupied the land the US exist on, have an extremely complicated history going back 10's of thousands of years. You are, of course, correct but I have no answer to what should be done.
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    Jul 5 2013: I live in Surinam, and on the first of juli, this year, the vice president of the Netherlands said that they were sorry for what happened during slavery in Surinam......after 150 years...It was no breaking news, because no one cared...The world is not waiting for sorry-feelers, the world is looking for people who care enough to " be the change you want to see in the world" (Ghandi) For you as an American it means that you are privileged the be an example, as countries like mine look up to you, learn from your ancesters and learn from their mistakes and the way they lived, but mostly learn from their norms and values....acts speak louder than words. Be proud of who you are, inspire other American to feel the same. I wish you a lot of inspiration and new vision / revalation about this issue.
    • Jul 5 2013: keep up your advantageous trade relations (under the gun of the imf) with elites who double their wealth every 7.4 years for every 10% advantage... while the disadvantaged wealth decreases similarly. Much easier to motivate 100 plebs with the Promise of promotion that maybe one will get while the immigrants to the usa and exiles from other countries are ecstatic on burger and fries. Tis Good to be The Empire. Who wants to stand up? Saudi democratic republicans...Bahraini tea party?
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        Jul 7 2013: Thx WBlakes, you know, i was an immigrant first from surinam to the netherlands, not for the burgers and fries but to study...after 20 years i moved back to surinam, now working as a full time volunteer on commynity projects with help and support from friends in the netherlands. I feel sorry that al lot of funds from IMF did not work out..but i am proud to be one of the few who try to make the best of everything they have...even if it is just a little bit. I can not help thousands, but I know for shure that for that one person i can make a diffrence. do you?
        • Jul 8 2013: Best wishes. I guess it's not easy. the last Surinamese(?) I spoke with was telling me how fast life was in the usa and how things were still slow there, that appeals to me. Me, i help where I can but my path is not the same as most people around me... there's a parable about a monkey saying to a fish, "You'll be safe Now!" as he put him in a tree. i'm afraid my advice would be dangerous for many... it's just i expected more at TED than simple shibboleths. I'm surrounded by cubans here, not very philosophic people for the most part, genocide in Guatemala... El Salvador, Nicaragua was materially supported by many here. I finally decided to study cuban history and have been astonished at how mendacious our immigrants are. Otoh, I can understand how many fleeing terrible hardship from home Love Love Love the usa, and hamburgers... and FOX 'news'. But they are not seeing things from a free, balanced, mature perspective. I reckon Holland has some skeletons in her closet too so maybe you can understand. Good luck again.
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        Jul 8 2013: i see your point, you see this all over the world...people suffering themself for a better live, in surinam we have lots of chineese immigrants, they work 24 hours a day for this better live. you know when you miss something terrible, like eatin' a delicious burger, is a dream come true when you have been supressed for years not to be able to eat what ever you wish for......that is also freedom. Climbing a boat for that big mac! So if you are willing to make hudge sacrifices to fullfill that wish, it is also freedom if you do so...after a while maybe you realise the meaningless value of that wish, but in that process you gained a lot of understanding and experiences about what realy means a lot to you....think of maslov.....you are a courages person.
        • Jul 8 2013: I've been wondering about your project in Surinam. There are so many pitfalls in trying to honestly and truly help, seems one needs to understand so much of life-economics, psychology, philosophy... deeply and broadly or risk doing real harm... even with everything it seems a gamble. You say you work with a project so hopefully there are wise people to support each other- I wish you the best, really do (both my parents were teachers so I have had a struggle balancing certain errrr, problems, high low, medium, good, bad cultures, lies misunderstandings etc etc; dad was greek, mom texas bible belt but liberal, school in uk. High ideals makes me seem snobby and impractical to some types, stupid to others and helpless for too many of the ones who ask for needed help. But I am serious and I have studied rather deeply). On a long shot... let me know about your work, i might have something to add to a team. Many usaers aren't far from dirt floored shacks though it can be unwise to Not pretend they are Succesful. Is there a way to do private messages here? I'll send you an email if so, or do you have a web site? Do you know of Danilo Dolci or Mondragon for instance? The problem of culture in the villages? And thanks.
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        Jul 8 2013: my email adres is jennifervanbraam@gmail.com, I don't know of Danillo Dolci or Mondragon. It is truly facinating to work with diffrent cultures, but i learned to accept them who they are...They spend money on hair extensions, nails and cellphone cards... while their children don't have a pen or writing notebook for school...the first thing I learned in my community: only children and disabeled people are depended...the rest chooses to be depended and that makes them realy poor people....
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      Jul 7 2013: Thanks for insight Jennifer,
      I have always believed in leading by example, and I fight to live up to being a good example.
      As to “as an American it means that you are privileged the be an example, as countries like mine”, I say it is our responsibility. American is going through its “dark-ages” since the 1950s, god willing it will end with the boomers. Your words give me encouragement to keep the pre-boomer American values alive in my heart and to pass them alone to the next generation.
      Again thanks.
      • Jul 8 2013: preboomer would be great depression, boom and crash, paying the russians to die fighting the nazis while the japs were spread out across asia and the islands till we scouped them w/ atomic weapons before the russians could assume their treaty rights there
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    Jul 5 2013: I was born and raised in the US and still live there. I think of being an American as the place where I am from. I am currently on an 8-month around-the-world trip and have visited several countries with troubled histories (e.g., Cambodia and Uganda) and some that are going through challenges now (I was in Istanbul when the Taksim Square protests started). I think there are good things and bad things about every country, as well as good and bad people in every country. There are things I like about my country and things I don't like.
  • Jul 4 2013: I think that this can be asked of any nationality or ethnic group. The truth is that Americans are not monolithic. Just like all blacks are not the same or all whites or all Italians and so on. We should avoid stereotyping. The beauty of America is our diversity and learning to manage it and live it. There is no other place on earth like it. We stand for equality and freedom and then we fight to live it every, single, day. We do this with many, many types of people and differences and beliefs. This is not common in other countries. There may be a minority and majority ethnic group or religion. But here we have so many groups. That is unique to the US.

    I believe that to be an American is to live in the US and embrace all that is good and try to save her from what is bad. It is about a great legacy of freedom that we need to keep tweaking and guiding and standing up for. It is a recognition of what was/is bad ( slavery ) and vowing to learn from it and spreading our knowledge of how it was bad. You should feel proud of your heritage...every little bit of it added to who you are right now. You carry the good and learn from the bad. And you fight to correct the bad. There is no shame in disagreeing with your country. It is a relationship and sometimes relationships are very rocky. Hang in there !
    • Jul 7 2013: I'm sad to say you appear to be one of the "propagandized" Americans who's government and media covers up all their mistakes/wrong-doings.
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    Jul 3 2013: What it means to be powerful? The dilemma....


    To be most powerful, most dangerous and corrupt....Worldly

    OR

    To be most powerful and most compassionate....Godly
  • Jul 3 2013: The ability to fawn seems the greatest asset among the plebs. Honest men are very often excluded from bureaucracies, enforcement agencies... perhaps that's why the usa intelligence services fail so badly so often, or do they do it on purpose? usa is built on waste, it's a job creation program. it is rich because it has exported it's slaves (latifundiae) and get's it material from countries it controls directly or through it's banks. Pax USAmericana, run by happy dumbasses
    • Jul 6 2013: wbkajesx java,

      You've won the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.

      Keep 'em coming.
      It is about time the people woke up and quit dancing around the maypole.

      The US peoples are asleep. No one is minding the store of Freedoms.
      They are slowly being shoplifted, one little Freedom at a time.
      I've watched and yelled and written about it for 50 years.
      No change in the people. They sleep on.
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    Jun 28 2013: Everybody thanks for all the feedback, they are wonderfully interesting and thought provoking.

    I have had realized a few insights;

    *Saying American is a matter of citizenship, is like say Leonardo da Vinci was a painter.
    Although factually correct is does not tell the whole story, and depending on the context could be consider a lie by omission.

    *I have American citizenship, heritage and values. Although I feel pride for my American heritage and values, a person’s citizenship and heritage are small parts of what makes us and thus we should only feel a small amount of pride/sham because of them.

    *I always have been driven to create things that would out last me, and I realize that art and buildings of stone and metal, inventions, etc. are things that do not last, but it’s “Ideas” that are lasting.
    Greek philosophy and science still stand strong, but their build crumble.
    Roman ideas of government still stand strong, but not their chariots.
    Even though you likely never heard of the Viking 9 Noble Virtues, they are still with us.

    So even though the America of 1776 is fading into history, the ideas brought forth have gone worldwide and will never fade.
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    Jun 27 2013: Funny, to me being american, is anyone being born in and/or perhaps adopting the lands of north south and central america as your home.

    The first Americans had little to do with the USA.

    I guess you are referring to united states of american.

    Generalising is problematic, but there seems to be several countries within the USA. A conservative sometimes bible thumping bunch, and a more socially liberal group. And all in between i guess.

    I would try not to take too personally if my ancestors were heroes or villains, and focus on my contribution.
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      Jun 27 2013: 30+ years ago I met some students from South America. They couldn't figure out why the U.S President would say: "My Fellow Americans . . . " and then talk about local, U.S. politics. They considered themselves Americans too! But they were citizens of other nations; NOT the U.S.A.

      So U.S. Citizens are NOT the only Americans! I agree w/you. Generally, I refer to "U.S. Americans" when I want to keep things focused on the U.S.A.
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        Jun 28 2013: Since the America (North, South) continents range from Canada to Argentina, those students were correct. And is another aspect to the question; What does it mean to be American?

        Sad but I’m not sure if "My Fellow Americans . . . " is being used or not, likely because speeches have been reduced to sound-bits. I’m sorry when they all give long-winded repetitive speeches every day, We the People don’t have that much time to waste.
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          Jun 30 2013: Yeah! They do a really good job of putting most of us to sleep . . . the way they drone on & on & on. Con-men do that all the time. They make all kinds of comforting, reassuring, and thoughtful statements. And all the while they steal our wallets & rape our daughters.

          No wonder U.S. Americans have such an interesting set of international stereotypes to contend with. A Canadian citizen is stereotyped where-ever they travel "-aye?" Englishmen, Scotsmen & Irishmen face their own stereotypes as do the French, Germans, and yes - the Japanese.

          I like the Japanese the best in their khaki pants & pale-primary colored clothing (lots of baby-blue, pink & yellow), cute little hats fit for Caucasian children & their huge cameras. Use to be you could hear a 'herd' of Japanese tourists long before you saw them. It was that intermittent buzz/whir of camera shutters. They were/are always so wonderfully well behaved. That too is a stereotype. And I don't find that one all that derogatory. The Japanese take great pride in their national sense of uniformity & same-ness. U.S. Americans, not-so-much!

          As to U.S. Americans, no single group is more loved/hated around the world. I think the stereotype is something like: "Ignorant, & unconsciously rude, but congenial. Be patient w/them and if you can do nothing else, send them back to their hotel." U.S. Americans are not big tippers in the grand scheme of things. Except when they need help, & then they get very generous w/the taxi drivers who helps them out of what they think is a jam!
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    Jun 27 2013: Hi Don, I looked at that Loyalty Oath you reference here. I am not an expert on "documents." I could find no date on it. I can't figure out what state it came from. And all the so-called signatures, are signed by the same person who wrote the text above them. That does not mean there isn't another page of signatures attached to this. But I'd do some more investigation before I bothered to publish the document as authentic before 200+ relatives at the annual family reunion. And by that, I mean the reunion held every year at the casino in Vegas. In other words, w/o more - I wouldn't gamble on this document at all!

    In fact, I've gotten so cynical over the years that I can see how the document @the link you give could easily be fraudulent. It could be "computer generated" and "Computer Aged" to look real when it isn't. The handwriting is almost "supernaturally regular" for someone who is producing this document w/a quill pen. Any variation is almost 'trivial.' Admittedly, back in the day, there were "Official Calligraphers" or Scriveners, who would earn their living producing & copying documents like this. Surely they had to have good handwriting. But something here does seem a bit fishy.

    Most "Loyalty Oaths" were taken in places like the public square before witnesses. You'd raise your right hand & swear on a Bible.. If a record was kept, the scrivener listed the names as here. But there would be additional "Legal Attestations" to go with it (Like a Notary or Judge's Signature). The document would then be "recorded" at the Court House and kept like a Deed or Marriage License. You can go SEE the original as recorded. Just what's shown here is definitely open to question.

    Maybe I've been watching too many episodes of "Pawn Stars" on History Channel - where they call in an expert to validate or verify signatures. -But this could easily be a ploy to get you to pay-up & "sign-up." It's a business & they want your money! So be careful.Liars do lie!
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      Jun 27 2013: Thanks Juan,

      I also noticed that the entire document has the same handwriting, my guess is that is it a handwritten copy of the original. (Hopefully done shortly after the original was signed) I fail to understand why someone would fake such a document, but sadly I know that it does happen. The great thing about crowd-sourcing is that every piece of info has several questioning eyes looking into it, including my own.
      I think it came from fold3, I’m working on confirming that. And also I’m looking sourcing for supporting documentation.

      I started my ancestry hunt about 18-month ago, so I’m still a newbie to it. As you pointed out you need to learn the history and not just find a paper trail, and I find that vary mentally stimulating.
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        Jun 27 2013: I respond in the box above. There really is a lot to GOOD Genealogy. Lots of really subtle detective work. In fact, Detectives, Journalists, & Genealogists have many of the same skills. Good luck. And keep hunting until you find the truth of it.

        If you paid money to get access to the document you provided (link), consider getting a lawyer. If you can prove fraud, you'll at least get what you've invested so far back from them.
  • Jun 27 2013: I'll have to agree with Kai. We get too caught up in where we live. I believe where I live effects me. It does not define me. The world should be celebrated (and mourned) respectively. Without bias of proximity to ones personal points of interest.
  • Jun 27 2013: Since you are an American, it is up to you to decide what it means to be an American. You have that freedom and that responsibility. There is nothing wrong with asking these questions, but you should also do your own reading and research and develop your own answers.

    "Should" does not apply to feelings. Feelings are largely a biological reaction.

    Much of USA history has been shameful, and much of it has been commendable. Mixed feelings are natural.
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      Jun 27 2013: It is my own reading and research that is the source of my conflict.
      For example just the other day I found this
      http://mediasvc.ancestry.com/image/0fd9074c-bbea-4321-a8b9-549b010eed6f.jpg?Client=Trees&NamespaceID=1093
      It is a loyalty pelage signed by my 6th great grandfather James Trail and his sons.
      And on that same day I read the US is pressing charges against Snowden, Hong-Hang is having gathering to support him and I could find none happening in the US.

      I know to focus on the positive, and yet as they say “Evil wins when good men do nothing”.
      ---
      P.S. FYI: Ancestry hunting is a growing crowd-source endeavor, and we build on each other research.
      So by no means am I a historian, I guess in TED speak I would be called a citizen-historian. For example the document above was found by someone else, and I and likely others will hunt for better copies and transcribe it.
      • Jun 27 2013: I think the conflict you are feeling is normal among educated USA citizens. The more I learn about the USA, the more difficult it becomes to encapsulate its history and my feelings. There was a recent TED conversation about Abraham Lincoln. The man that most Americans honor as a hero is considered by many others, both North and South, as a traitor.

        There is one answer that I can state with complete confidence: Yes, you should care. I think you are on a good path.

        I thought of something that might help you. When our public officials take office, and when recruits become members of the military, they take an oath to uphold the Constitution. They do not take an oath to support the current administration, or to the country or even to the people, just the Constitution.
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    Jun 27 2013: Hey Don, So the question is, WHAT should you feel? Should you feel pride in your heritage or shame for what is happening now? Were I in your shoes, I couldn't even ask the question. Sure, feel pride in your heritage. Feel pride in who you are and where you come from. That has to mean something. To some degree we all are today, what those who went before made us, or made it possible for us to become. So live today so that wonderful heritage has real meaning in your life. That's a very American thing to do. E Pluribus Unum Check it out. It's on all U.S. coins.

    Now, if you're just up for it, join me in a moment of shame & disgust for so much of the garbage that is going on in the name of Peace, Love, & the United States of America! Let's not let this moment last any longer than about 30 seconds or so. There's too much other good stuff to reflect upon. But it does seem that Congress & the President need to get their act together and get some stuff done! And that ain't all. There's a lot of pain to get fixed in the world.
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      Jun 27 2013: I’m more interested in What should I LEARN from these opposing emotions towards relatively the same thing. I'm sure this is not a new lesson and has been repeated many time in history. I can imagine a Roman merchant who love the empire, and yet was feeling sham over the politicians causing its end. And in pre-WWII and during the raise of Chairman Mao, some asking why is so many following this guy.

      I’m sure there is a spiritual lesson in this, but I’m stubbed to figure it out.
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        Jun 27 2013: Hi Don, here is where I answer your question. If you need help w/a decision, come visit my conversation here: http://www.ted.com/conversations/18786/decisions_choices_alternat.html. I don't do "counseling" or anything. & "Free advice is worth every penny you pay for it" -as the old saying goes. But that thread 'needs-help' so your comments are appreciated.

        I doubt that a Roman Merchant would even have noticed the alleged "Fall of Rome" in 476 AD. There was no possibility of a world w/o Rome back then.

        Chairman Mao? He came to power during the "Age of Fascism." I think the same social forces that brought Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, & Hideki Tōjō 東條 英機 to power; also sustained Joseph Stalin & Mao Zedong in power after WW II. The world was war weary; & tired of fighting. The U.S. had nuclear weapons; no one was going to attack the U.S. -Europe was devastated. Japan was on its knees after two nuclear attacks. So the war ended.

        China & Russia were allies of the U.S. in WW II. Both Stalin & Mao Zedong (after Jiang Zhongzheng (蔣中正) departed to Taiwan) were U.S. Allies. They were not going anywhere! The hot war was over; next came the Cold War. The rest is history. You just "let-it-roll" and Time moves on.

        Russia & China were both Communist states. They still are. The Grand Experiment of 'Communism vs Capitalism' continues. The Cold War did end w/the fall of the Berlin Wall. Russia has become an Oligarchy; China is another form of Oligarchy; The "Central Committee of the People" still runs each nation. Much of the recent change is form over substance - except for the Free Market changes; Those might well be significant in the long run. China is certainly giving the U.S. a run for its money!

        There isn't much 'spiritual' about all of that! Mostly we all just live with the facts & hope for something better. If you want to do something, consider becoming active politically. Spiritual advice? Ask a spiritual question.
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          Jun 27 2013: I’ll be sure to check into that thread.

          LOL, I can’t help myself and comment on a line in your reply.

          Juan: “in 476 AD. There was no possibility of a world w/o Rome back then.”

          I can foresee a future post in 3550 AD reading.
          “in 2013 AD. There was no possibility of a world w/o America back then.”
          ;)
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        Jun 27 2013: Don, in 476 AD, Rome had been around for 1230 years. In that length of time, nobody could foresee a time when Rome could NOT exist. The Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Half of the Roman Empire) lasted for another 1000 years. So from 753 BC to 1453 AD, there was a Roman Empire somewhere on the shores of the Mediterranean sea. For 2000 years, Latin or Greek was the language of empire. The empire capital might have been either Rome or Constantinople (Byzantium) but it was all 'Roman' in concept. The city of Rome is still around today.

        Don't believe me. Check it out on Wikipedia. "The Byzantine Empire was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Initially the eastern half of the Roman Empire (often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context), it survived the 5th century fragmentation and collapse of the Western Roman Empire and continued to thrive, existing for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453."

        So to equal the longevity of Rome, the U.S.A. was either founded as early as 550 AD; or it will have to stick around until year 3010 or so. If the U.S.A. lasts until 3010, historians really MIGHT have reason to say in the year 3550: "In 2013 AD, no one would even have suggested that the "Fall of the U.S.A." was even possible in 2280 AD; or even in 3010 AD. There was no possibility of a world w/o the U.S.A. back then."

        Rome really did have all the advantages as far as longevity is concerned. l:)
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    Jun 26 2013: I would say the comments below are politically correct and glib and devoid of a viewpoint.

    To answer this question you simply have to define what America is, when you look it up the dictionary it will say a place. Which is not a complete definition. To get a better definition one would look to the constitution. I think there you might realize it has to do with:

    freedom, private property, prosperity, hope, a rule of law, national defense, stability, inclusiveness, creativity, a culture aimed at the these things, having goals, improving things, the best opportunity of bettering yourself, happiness, and respect for those in the graveyard who by improving themselves improved other lives through the free market, a place for the free market that has raised the standard of living of the entire world more than any other country in the history of the world, a place where a person has the best chance to flourish, a place where art and creativity have the best chance to prosper, a place where the individual has a platform from which to communicate which certainly is not true where the individual is kept quiet by a monolithic centralized government, a place where the highest achievement of science can occur, a place where you are free to HTFU and succeed anyway, a place where states have the right secede, a place where you have the right to defend yourself (especially with a gun), a place where there is equal opportunity to succeed, a place where the TBTF do and allow the new smaller entities to grow and prosper and find the new direction that market needs and wants, a place that is built on immigration and the new ideas they bring with them, a place where you are free to communicate or not communicate, a place where you can observe and observe that you are observing and to state what you observe, a place where you can disagree and state that disagreement without reprisal, a place where you are not enslaved.

    I'm not saying that is what it is but what it was intended to be.
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      Jun 26 2013: Nicely stated, Pat.
      To me America is more of an idea/ viewpoint/belief, and not just a location.
  • Jul 25 2013: By the way, I would not replace GNP, but I like the use of an index to measure progress. For example, requiring companies above a certain market capitalization to reinvest in themselves or partnering with others to create jobs instead of simply sitting on larger and larger piles of cash that draw interest, but do nothing else. Particularly at a time when jobs are needed. 70% of the U.S. economy is consumer-based. Distributing wealth according to market forces is much more efficient than collecting and distributing tax money. Requiring such distribution acts like a tax, but without the bureaucracy. An index based on percentages of profits retained vs profits reinvested might provide a rational basis for doing just that. I don't think I'd call it the "Happiness Index", but it would measure how much capital is available for growth at a given time. How to apply it is a topic for a different discussion.

    Wealth for a society is created by distribution, not by accumulation. The more people that have money, the stronger the economy. The stronger the economy, the more choice we can create. Requiring change on somebody's say-so is fiat, which we, as a country, have rejected. Using the system we have and having reasonable expectations of it is the choice we've made. People will usually respond to change with resistance, so be prepared.
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    Jul 25 2013: Here one point I would like to debate:

    "Government officials: We'd lose a lot of valuable people with long experience in government if everyone had to retire from public life after completing their service. Regulations regarding interaction would be more effective."

    RESPONSE: They just can't get involved in govt. business, contracts or communications. They will have to earn a living in a non govt. related business like the 99% of us. The corporate / elected official revolving door nullifies democracy.

    There are way too many rewards to do the bidding of corporations vs. "We the people..."
    • Jul 25 2013: I would certainly like to do without lobbyists. They are all too often given too much credibility as surrogate "representatives of the people" because they employ X number of them. They represent only their own private interests. The ethics are tricky, but I'd rather see as much intelligence and integrity in Washington as we can muster, even if it means they get rich off their knowledge. Much more dangerous is the influence-peddler who withholds support to kill good ideas because his company can't make money from them. Perhaps simply barring them from lobbying for a period of time would be sufficient. Ever seen a "Political Contacts" form? You have to document the person, the place, the time, how much of it was spent on particular topics, and much more. Much easier to put a simple prohibition on categories of contact for a limited time. Ex-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spent time in the private sector after working for the government, then went back to the government, then back to the private sector. What he gained in knowledge from the government no doubt served the private sector. But what he learned there helped him make intelligent cuts in the military budget when the time came. He was an outstanding Defense Secretary. More should follow his example of public service.
  • Jul 25 2013: China is not dependent on the U.S. for markets, so charging them for the privilege of doing business with us will be a hard sell.

    Taxes create incentives and disincentives. Want investors in the local pool you propose? Better make it worthwhile, or you won't have many investors. The tax code is complex, and those with money can afford to exploit it. Yeah, a lot of people should pay more than they do, but they risk a great deal, too. And there's no tax break for investment losses. You made, you pay. You lose, you get nothing back. The nurse is risking her feet, but she also gets health care. And, by and large, a refund. Her loss is covered. An investor's is not. He has to cover himself.

    "Immigrants would be exempt from minimum wage laws." Like they are now? And by the way, let's make sure we utilize them to their fullest capacity to support our better jobs and extravagant lifestyles while limiting their opportunities. That's what America really stands for.

    Education: Been to a fast food restaurant lately? For 20 years, the cash registers have not had numbered keys to tally an order. They use pictures. They are operated primarily by high school students and recent graduates. Nice to see the skills they've acquired getting a workout in the marketplace. Colleges compete fiercely for FAFSA money, gifts, corporate partnerships - you name it. To them, your child's value is limited to FAFSA and whatever further contributions she may make after becoming an alumnus. If they don't see in her the same qualities that other well-heeled alumni have demonstrated, her grades are irrelevant. Sorry. That's how competitive it is. That's how expensive it is. They had to add a year of remediation courses because even with 3.7 GPA's, kids are too accustomed to using pictures instead of numbers and letters. The great bulk can't do math, or make sense either on paper or in their heads because they were taught to take tests, instead of being educated to possess the ability to reason.
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    Jul 25 2013: If a US multinational manufacturing worker creates a job for a worker in China they should pay a tax to America because the freedom and stability created in America allowed the company to become a successful company.

    If a wealthy guy makes money speculating in stocks (sitting on his ass) he should be taxed at the same rate as a nurse that stands on her feet for 10 hours a day.

    The enterprise zones I would create would be huge and utilize new immigrants. Talk to Apple and find out what they would need as far as wage concession to manufacture in the US. Immigrants would be exempt from minimum wage laws. Tax Apples foreign workers to level the playing field. US workers will most likely get the middle management, plant construction and spin off jobs (local restaurants, gas stations etc).

    There is little evidence that immigrants take quality jobs from US workers. Here in Florida there are over 5,000 job openings a year for Orange pickers. Only about 20 or 30 American workers actually seek and keep these jobs. If we don't have enough fruit and vegetable pickers, food will rot in the fields. Resulting in higher food prices.

    Your comments on Education are hogwash. Education should be about learning and not about false scarcity and protecting the wealthy elite. I would be happy to "water down" the sheep skin Harvard degree of the fat cats, if it helped 100,000 other people advance in our economy.

    University of Phoenix is a joke (and expensive) they spend approx. 50% of their revenues on advertising which creates no education value to society. It's all about getting the student's loan money and dumping the student.

    Taxes are revenues.

    We should raise the cost of outsourcing jobs by taxing companies that outsource.

    Actually I think primary schools are great today. The problem is the expense and competition for acceptance into Universities. My daughter had a 3.7 gpa average and was not accepted to state university that I attended or 3 other name brand FL universities.
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    Jul 25 2013: Problem: Outsourcing of US jobs
    Create a tax on a US company when they create a job overseas.

    Education: Too Expensive
    Require institution like Harvard to offer very low cost online classes.

    Increase Growth in the US:
    Increase immigration we need a larger a population to grow. But favor small business owners.

    Change tax policy to reward work vs. passive income generation.
    Create large enterprise zones in sparsely populated regions like Wyoming.
    Limit the amount that a large company can advertise. They drown out and pollute the marketing channel for smaller businesses.
    Give consumers the ability to Opt out of all advertising: TV, radio, direct mail. Marketing has controlled behavior and highjacked the culture.
    Prohibit Govt. officials to have any contact with govt. when they leave office. (lobbying)
    Start a national "work from home" campaign for office workers to reduce consumption of gasoline and clogged highways.
    Create non corporate "channels" on the internet that serve society.
    Create local financing units where small investors can pool assets and invest in a portfolio of local startups. Cut military spending and stop meddling with countries around the World.
    Create a culture of compassion and brotherly love at home and abroad.
    Raise the consciousness of need based consumption vs. greed based consumption.
    Replace national prosperity accounting of GNP with Gross National Happiness analysis.
    • Jul 25 2013: Outsourcing: Already being done. Taxes becoming less important as labor supply rises and demand for lower-paying jobs increases. The problem is too many low-paying jobs created by economies of scale. Change the scale.

      Education: An online Harvard education is not a Harvard education. Content is largely the same regardless of the institution. The difference is in the quality of teaching and peer interaction. If you want book learnin', go to the University of Phoenix. If you want experience and certifiable ability, go to Harvard. In person. The bigger problem is in primary and secondary education, not so much post-secondary.

      Increase Growth: A larger population? So we can have a larger labor supply that will encourage lower wages? For me, the solution is in something besides taxes that encourage a distribution, rather than an accumulation of excessive capital. More taxes equals more bureaucracy (and its expense).

      Labor vs. passive income: If by passive income you mean welfare, right on. If you mean making money by trading paper, it's encouraging from the standpoint of developing individual skills. England lost a lot of it's cultural leadership when its economy changed from colonialism (development) to financing. If I invest in a pool of local startups, what's wrong with doing so successfully? I have provided necessary capital, and created an income for myself. And helped to do so for others. Got to make space for it.

      Enterprise zones: Already being done. And they're so desperate for an enterprise they give away their potential tax revenue for the sake of the tax revenue from the jobs created. Marginal.
    • Jul 25 2013: Advertising: Opting out is good online, but all the other media remains. Maybe tighter regulations on deceptive or misleading advertising would be sufficient. It's hard to regulate free speech.

      Government officials: We'd lose a lot of valuable people with long experience in government if everyone had to retire from public life after completing their service. Regulations regarding interaction would be more effective.

      Cut military spending and stop meddling: Simply do a better job of prioritizing our interests and acting with conviction on a specific goal. Support our allies and those who would become so at the expense of doing so until the job is done instead of cutting and running. Fix the VA in conjunction with the healthcare system.

      Compassion and need vs greed: We already have compassion. No one else does as much as we do, world wide, to alleviate hunger, disease, and oppression. We could do more, on curing these problems, but they'll not be solved simply by alleviation. How much is enough? The promise of no limits is essential to hope, and more people hope to live here than anywhere else on the planet. There is a lot of misinformed and misguided consumption, but without the hope of achieving even a piece of it, why try? Just settle for your government handout and what you can cheat your neighbor for.

      We prefer a dangerous freedom to a peaceful slavery, aware that choices have consequences, and keep working on solutions together because agreement is preferable to the alternatives. We already know what they are. A nicer society has to be achieved by deciding what negatives we are willing to tolerate in order to achieve something acceptable. And letting us try as hard as we can, with all the excess it leads to, in order to get the data we need to achieve it. We can agree only when our knowledge is shared.

      Work from home: Already being done, just perhaps not on the scale you'd like. But you can't do everything online.
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    Jul 24 2013: The bully boss would be the one who would try to suppress free speech.
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    Jul 24 2013: How do you figure that? You get to speak your mind, I get to speak mine.

    The American Revolution was based upon criticism.

    Critical Freedom of speech is a very patriotic thing to exercise.
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    Jul 24 2013: What are the more recent American values that have spread worldwide?

    I’m no history expect, but I believe “leave no man behind” motto of the US marines, should be considered an American value. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe it has spread worldwide.

    I hope there are others, but I’m drawing a black at the moment.
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      Jul 24 2013: .
      Question: What are the more recent American values that have spread worldwide?

      Answer: Celebrity: Keeping up with the Kardasian's.

      It's the American way of life to judge our value according to the stuff we own in relation to what others own around us. We don't honor many modest, selfless Mother Teresa / Nelson Mandela types.

      We export narcissism globally. Greed and envy are infectious.

      Leave no man behind? We do it everyday.

      Many people in America have disdain and anger towards the homeless and poor. They are considered "weak" and not worth saving.
  • Jul 15 2013: For me, being an American simply means that I have the same language and traditions as many others around me. But this in no way, lessens my interest in and admiration for, other traditions, ideas and histories.
  • Jul 14 2013: the thread's taken a turn back to the bs side. The us needs, since it's inception, a Major rip off about every 20 years. It relies on externalities, not economy. It forces favourable 'bargains'. It teaches false histories to maintain it's press, politics, elite supporting religion, a ludicrous ideology. It lies about others as a routine matter. Are there worse places to be a citizen? In one sense yes, like Poland in 1940 or Rwanda, Leopold's Congo, Cambodia under usa bombing, N Korea too, usa backed wars Like Guatemala. What would happen if it gave up it's self serving credulity and grew up to a level of 21rst c literacy (which means far more than the ability to read rubbish and watch soaps, fox, political rubbish, wallow in a racist septic tank?) Usa has let civilization down in a huge way... it prefers to imagine itself as little Prussia, 18-19c. It certainly is not the leader of the free world in any meaningful sense, rather leader to the gutter. Viz USA AID in Costa Rica to set up a parallel state to piratize and dismantle CR governance, society, & etc...

    btw, Obama is a KGB plant y'all
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    Jul 13 2013: Don Anderson said:
    "By most standards we are a highly dysfunctional group, and should be a failed society. "
    "... but also home of tyrants, cowards, passive, aggressive, moral and immoral and I could go on and on forever. "

    Of course we are a dysfunctional group. The US is designed around the rights of the individual and freedom to associate as we please. If you try to define or impose a US culture or "group" you will fail. If you can't do that, you can't measure functionality.

    The people of the US are not exceptional. Some may act in exceptional ways when they want to. And are able to because of the open social structure and the will to preserve their state. The US is a great place for the "common [hu]man" to make the most of themselves.

    Here is fun little history book that really shows the strength of the US:

    "A Renegade History of the United States" by Thaddeus Russell
    http://www.amazon.com/A-Renegade-History-United-States/dp/B004VD3YZA

    ".. Russell brilliantly and vibrantly argues that it was history’s iconoclasts who established many of our most cherished liberties. Russell finds these pioneers of personal freedom in the places that usually go unexamined—saloons and speakeasies, brothels and gambling halls, .."
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    Jul 13 2013: Bottom line- Individual Rights VS the collectivist philosophy where the state controls the individual- but that means individual responsibility as well
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    Jul 13 2013: I think what America has that is missing in most countries is Disney land. It's a monument to what could be in anyone’s nation if they work hard enough.

    It's a place where the most of what a country could be is hosted and displayed for everyone to experience. It's missing in most countries. Everyone in American goes to Disney land at least once in their lives and I think it gives them some type of social, cultural and civilizing focus.

    It could be a more complex package of interesting notions but I think it's simply this.
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    Jul 11 2013: You know myself and my girlfriend talk about stuff like this a lot because I'm Irish and she's American so we get room to discuss things. We got around to talking about my perception of America the other day and what I always thought set America above every other country is it's position as a big brother to the rest of the world. No matter who you were or where you came from America was always there to guide you and to put an arm around you and to welcome you in and make you feel appreciated. That was my perception of this country and in my opinion what makes it great, it stands up for the little guys who can't stand up for themselves, and I hope America never loses sight of this that it can always remain a beacon of hope for the downtrodden and for those who seek to make a better life for themselves. I don't think the 'American dream' is purely an American thing, it appeals to the whole world. And you are probably right this could only work in such a country that we call a melting pot, somewhere that embraces all cultures, and long may it remain so, and long may American citizens fight for this view of their country, long may people stand up for the little guy.
    In regard to your other question, I come from a deeply subjective school of thought so if I found out that there were English or Scandinavian blood in me, it wouldn't change who I am or my perspective of myself, or for that matter my perspective of what it means to be Irish. I believe that what makes somebody a specific nationality is if they value the spirit of the country, this is abstract airy-fairy language I realise, but it's the best way I can explain it. I was on a transatlantic flight last year with a man who was born in Nigeria and spent the first 30 years of his life travelling around the world, but when he got to Ireland he said he felt like he was home, so much so he stayed and 15 years later he is an Irish citizen. We had different coloured skin, different accent but he is truly as Irish as I am
    • Jul 12 2013: Hi Dear Eamonn O'Neill,I deem if someone feels like he(she) is home,it is the most comfortable feeling for us humanbeing.It reminds me one of songs I listened:you make me feel like home again.What is the name of song?
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      Jul 18 2013: This whole big brother to the world might be great if it was actually about ideals.. On the one hand, I love this is the public portrayal that works for the majority of Americans. On the other hand, I hate that it's just a spin created by the politicians of the rogue nation. Big brother showed up in Kuwait to kick out Saddam Hussein, but where was he when Zimbabwe took a dive? Why? What was there in Kuwait for Americans that Zimbabwe doesn't have to offer?
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    Jul 11 2013: sorry if others already asked this but what do you mean by "a great nation"? also, I don't see how being American "does work"? i'm assuming you're not including the millions of illegal residents, right? it doesn't exactly work for them, but there are also many Americans that aren't doing so well either
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      Jul 11 2013: A Great Nation as in A Great Power and by no means I’m I suggesting greatest nation/power, it is just one of many.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pre-modern_great_powers
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rise_of_the_Great_Powers

      The question is “Why does “IT” work?” with “IT” being (US of America as a nation), and not the people.
      With such a mix match bunch of people/cultures/religions/values/etc we should be so busy fighting, we should be a 3rd world country.

      Personal; Illegal residents have the American spirit, just like those in the Middle East fighting against tyrants, and to me that is what really matters.
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      Jul 11 2013: I respectfully disagree. Freedom is not an illusion. Freedom is real. I have traveled to too many places where it can be dangerous to speak the truth or to speak your mind. Say the wrong thing at the wrong time & you can go to jail for just that -speaking the truth. Freedom of speech is real.

      Freedom of the press is real. Many in the U.S.A believe that the press is the first line of defense against corruption. Much 'official' (& unofficial) criminal behavior is deterred by the press. There is much there to evaluate.

      In the U.S.A. we have the freedom to worship as we choose. We can feel safe at night & be free of fear in our homes. We can work at our chosen profession and find a way to make a better future for ourselves & our children. Compared to most of the rest of the world, our society is free of want.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4_freedoms
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          Jul 11 2013: OK - I guess I'll just call that my "delusional-manner" from now on. And thank you.
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          Jul 24 2013: Illusion or not most countries don't even have the illusion to laud to.
        • Jul 24 2013: the empire is strong, you can say anything... until people start to listen, or you have a job, or go to school
          criminals are good for the economy, they are a scourge to the weak
      • Jul 12 2013: say the wrong thing to the wrong cop you dead (specially you wrong colour). Tray, Hey TRAY.... You Around Tray? Martin???? Bobby? John??
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          Jul 12 2013: Yeah, Trayvon Martin. Who knows how that is going to work out. "U.S.A. - U.S.A. - got my gun now let's go play!"

          Too many people w/too many guns 'killing too much innocence. The gun does not make a man; the brain inside his head does that - but only if they use their brains.
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          Jul 24 2013: I don't see much of that around Georgia. It does happen but more so in other countries where liberty and freedom are not considered to be important.
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          Jul 24 2013: Given the Travon Martin verdict - I have a whole lot of doubt where the Florida system of justice is concerned! I am less concerned about the 2nd Amendment than I am about the ability of the State Courts in Florida to do anything consistent w/any concept of justice!

          The team that prosecuted George Zimmerman had previously won a conviction w/a 20 year sentence against a Black woman who fired a warning shot from a gun to prevent her abusive husband from attacking her. She didn't shoot anyone, but got 20 years. So the prosecution team in this case knew how to put people 'away' - they were a capable team. They were senior prosecutors w/an enviable track record taking on a high profile case.

          But here, Travon Martin was killed & his killer walked away free. There were/are questions about flaws in how the prosecution conducted it's case. I wonder how serious they were about winning that case vs. George Zimmerman. Were those flaws intentional? Did they want to win at all? Did the prosecution intend to lose that case from the beginning? Why would they prosecute if they intended to lose the case from the beginning?

          The gun lobby exists to protect a billion dollar industry: guns. The 2nd Amendment is just a fig leaf used to justify that. I have no problem w/ good citizens owning guns. But I do have a problem w/armed idiots shooting a 17 y/o kid dead. The 9.1.1. operator told Zimmerman to stay in his car & wait for the police. Perhaps the operator had doubts about Zimmerman's ability to control a confrontation w/a suspect? And maybe the Zimmerman prosecution should have made those doubts & questions evident to the jury?

          You don't get to conceal/carry w/o some specific responsibilities under the law. I have not read Florida's "stand your ground" statute - but I guarantee that nothing in that law gave George Zimmerman, while armed, the right to initiate a confrontation w/a minor who was acting lawfully.

          I'll take another block to finish this.
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          Jul 24 2013: There is no specific "legal theory" to promote this . . . but conceal-carry laws do seem to support the idea that there has to be a "Brain-to gun" connection. Licensed permit holders are trained in this. The law burdens the armed citizen with added responsibilities. If you walk around armed, you don't get to flash your gun in public, show it off at a bar, or engage in target practice on the public street. And clearly (see my comment above) you don't get warning shots.

          A Uniformed Cop would have had "Probable Cause" under the law to stop & at least question Travon Martin. Also under the law, Travon Martin would have had to cooperate with the officer & hold himself accountable. Not-so-much, George Zimmerman.

          Because George Zimmerman was NOT a cop. He did not have "probable cause" as a police officer would have had under the law. Travon Martin had the same right to 'self defense' that Zimmerman had - especially when Zimmerman was following him & calling him the 'N-word' in the hearing of the 9.1.1. operator.

          So how did this kid get shot dead - & George Zimmerman get to keep his gun? I don't understand THAT at all!
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      Jul 13 2013: "Being a United Statian (American is anyone originally from the Americas)" Awkward :)

      Others give us and reinforce our names. It stuck. There are hundreds of other names that do not really fit. How about the less clumsy "US Citizen"?

      Ok. Why not solve this age old problem:

      Third person singular indefinite pronoun "he". We have some awkward structures to get around this problem.
      o use "he/she" or "she/he" .. who gets to go first?
      o use "she' one time and "he" the other?
      o How about "it" for babies? Or people at the door: "who is it?"
      o How about making a statement and only using "she and her"?
      o Or inventing a new word like you did above: "shim, sher, .."
      o Use the Jane Austen plural. My favorite.
    • Jul 24 2013: Hispanics-Spain= white Caucasian. Latin Americans may be more mixed with Indegeno American.
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    Jul 10 2013: G. B Shaw said that 'patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it' and if this has even an element of truth to it it boils down to something that looks a lot like pure egoism, and honestly since where you are born is a lottery it is all a little bit silly.

    I must say as an Irishman currently living in America I find it insanely ironic that American people can claim to be proud patriotic people and then also claim to be half Italian, German, Japanese or whatever, I've had more people tell me that they too are Irish because their great great great grandfather emigrated during the famine, whereas I was born and lived in Ireland for 28 years. So there's a sense of fracture in that most American's are looking to be something other than American because as you say it yourself America is such a melting pot!!

    And to be honest your other question is not much of a mystery either, society works. It has always worked, it helps us to achieve self preservation which is our ultimate aim as living animals. Society and social contracts help to fend of the state of nature that exists without it. A state of nature that is harsh, unpredictable and heartless and would devour us all a little bit easier than it already does.
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      Jul 11 2013: Thanks Eamonn; by seeing though your viewpoint, I now see what makes America different and what makes it work.

      Firstly: Where you’re born does put people on a fast track to patriotism, like preschool is to education. But does not lock you into or guaranties your patriotism to that place.

      “A conviction that this country/culture is superior to all others” BINGO! Now I think I got it.
      Commonly countries/cultures fear others countries/cultures may change theirs, whereas America seeks and impresses’ other cultures to add them to our multi-culture blend. True they will go through a crowd-source review, and often only parts will be widely accepted.

      Personally I’m both American and a 100% pure blood European mutt, and embrace them all. (Plus those I have no DNA tie to) for example I embrace chi and yin yang, even though I have no Asian DNA.

      America works because we embrace other cultures influence, instead of fearing them.

      P.S. Eamonn, I’m wondering if you found you had some English or Scandinavian/Viking DNA, how would you feel?
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    Jul 10 2013: I don't think there is much value in being proud about something that you never chose yourself - ancestry for one. I am not sure what exactly is meant by 'American', but if it has something to do with nationalism, I don't think that is something one should be proud for because nationalism is an out dated idea that has run its course.
    If by 'American' you mean a culture, a set of values for which you and your people have sacrificed for centuries, if it is something you would want your children stand for, if being 'American' means a way of expression that is hold dear by everyone living in your land, the land and people you love, then yes you should care.
    Question is why should you care? It's because you chose to love and respect that land and people.
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    Jul 10 2013: Hey Don, we are blessed to be Americans. The wheels of chance have rolled to our favor by the steadfast efforts of Great men. Men that would sacrifice their fortunes And Sacred Honour to found this country. This is a country born from the Enlightment, where they could question with clear conscience the religious establishment of Europe and rightfully so. Given such freedoms without the moral fortitude, after so many years, people become just what our ancestors fought against, the Object being money and power, thus the lies and injustices pursue justified by the dollar with no account of reason. Reason becomes troublesome at that point.
    So, to answer your question, to be American means to question authority always and within the bounds of Reason. And you should care because you and the world's ancestry is of it.
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    Jul 9 2013: I don't live to fit into a label called 'American'. I really could care less. If you really look at the history of America as it happened (not as painted for little kids in elementary and secondary school textbooks) it's a typical mixture of great folks and incredible accomplishments -- and untold horrors. Just like most nations.

    I live in America. I'm an American in the same way that I'm a Houstonian (since I live in Houston, Texas). It's just where I am. I lead a good life and for the most part I'm OK living here. I could live elsewhere and no doubt be equally happy. (I've lived in other states and other nations... each has had its good points and its bad points.). I would recommend Voltaire's 'Candide' as a good textbook for life.
  • Jul 9 2013: Juan Valdez 10+ You are a great writer.

    Winston Churchill was a really great salesman, trying to save his nation from defeat.

    FDR did only three really bad things.
    1. He broke his campaign promises to keep us out of the war in Europe.
    2. He allowed carpet bombing of German cities that killed and maimed millions of civilians.
    3. He allowed the manufacture of the two nuclear bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Consider we humans as a sea of Ants. Army Ants.
    That is what we have been throughout history, and remain so today.

    Today in America people accept politician's empty promises and do give them celebrity status.
    Americans are informed "only" by well-paid media propaganda 24/7/366. Well paid media propaganda
    that flows continuously - so that all Americans can Ignore the Daily Dirty Deeds of All our Presidents,
    past, present, and unfortunately future.

    Hollywood made a movie named "Ants". Children laughed and ate popcorn as they watched.

    Americans set atop 1500+ nuclear bombs, nestled into their bunkers awaiting a push of a button to
    sent millions or billions of innocent men, women, and wee children to their deaths.

    We watch as our Military Industries churn out new and better killing and maiming machines.
    Military behaviors that have each and every day, one goal. To kill and maim. But not Ants.
    Causing the rest of the world to tremble and plan for their revenge and our demise.

    Fabricated threats? I think not.. Real threats.
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    Jul 9 2013: As a first generation American, my approach has never been I have to pick one or the other.
    People think of it as a pie chart or black and white situation.

    It's more of a bar graph. You can be 100% Jamaican and 100% American all at once.
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    Jul 9 2013: To be american would really be declaring that you live here. Currently however I would be ashamed to call myself American. I believe we have the best economical and governmental system, but it is just so corrupt and horribly executed. It is so terrible. We have such a potentiality.

    Your heritage is definitely something I would be proud of. They came here for the American dream and freedom it sounds like. Of course, back then it was actually achievable though.

    Overall, feel both. Your heritage is remarkable to have, but America just isn't the same these days. It needs fixing and no one wants to be the fixer.
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    Jul 9 2013: Allow me to inject a different idea to enrich the discussion.

    How about the freedom of not belonging to any country?
    Let me call this character JOE.

    For the convenience of travel and or the right to work or run a business and earn a living,JOE can have citizenship papers of a country or countries of his choice.JOE is free to build businesses or share his expertise as he sees fit whenever and wherever he pleases.He concentrates on designing and executing solutions to the problems he can associate .

    JOE is liberated from the pretense that ,in many countries,the average JOE can influence the political life of his country.
    JOE is geared towards finding the best ideas and the best ways of doing things.He does not waste time defending his country and he does not suffer from the pretense ,pride and glory of belonging to a particular one .JOE is thus free from the bondage of belonginness.

    JOE is open minded and worldly. His freedom from belonging allows him and makes it easier on him to be more objective in identifying design; business;cultural opportunities.JOE also can have the advantage in thinking as a world citizen and take better care of the environment.

    The theme of this discussion point I raised is to shift thinking in an alternative way.
    I believe there are already may citizens of the world in different parts of the globe--i have no doubt about that.
  • Jul 8 2013: Being an American is an individualized thing, not based on the actions of others. It's all about how you view yourself. Pride in living the American Dream. Pride in your heritage.
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    Jul 8 2013: It used to mean I was proud of my country, now there is just a sense of embarrassment. I just want to know where these small minded pigs that have taken over came from.
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        Jul 9 2013: If you can find them almost everywhere why do you ask which one?
  • Jul 8 2013: Of course the US hasn't been around as long as those other countrys either.
  • Jul 8 2013: Presently, for many people and perhaps a growing number of people, to be "American" includes the Fundamental Question:

    Do we really truly have a democracy in this country?
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    Jul 8 2013: I feel sorry for those believe being American (or any nationality) has no meaning beyond your citizenship. At first I was thinking it was just cold and devoid of emotion, but with further thought I’m thinking that for whatever reason they are deceiving themselves.

    Here is a little thought exercise, to explain my thinking.

    Let say you’re going to meet three new sets clients.
    Set A from US of America
    Set B from Europe
    Set C from Scandinavia
    Would you not form an impression as to their personalities, values, etc, based on just nationality?

    And to take it deeper, wouldn’t your impression change if learned that the Europe clients where from France, Germany, Italy, and etc. Would you be void of an impression hearing they are from Denmark, New York, Sweden, or Ohio?

    Countries go to great steps to protect their culture, so to say citizenship is meaningless is simply wrong.
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      Jul 8 2013: I know and meet with people from all over the world. Most work in the US. I can not and will not classify them based on their native land or the way the look. I know this is fighting the human desire to classify and discriminate based on difference. I do not study stereotypical behavior, culture or customs to make others feel more comfortable. That's a good way to come off as arrogant or foolish.

      Meeting with someone completely new is a process:
      1) name exchange, purpose for meeting, establish common communication tools ... 5 minutes
      2) jump into meeting (this could be a social meeting) ask many questions, assume nothing.
      3) Be sensitive to the others comfort level. Both (all) must be open. Each must let others know they are uncomfortable .. beyond just body language.
      4) Deal with "cultural problems" as individuals. I would never say "American's" do this or that. The US is multi-cultural. Act like your in Dubai.

      Cultural diversity is extremely complex within a nation or even a city any where in the world. We just need to be ourselves and engage with friendly intentions. Being culturally ignorant is not a fault.
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        Jul 8 2013: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying your impressions are set in stone or other information should not affect our impression. Just that they do exist, and saying a person culture has no effect on them is wrong.
        Plus knowing a person culture should be a positive, for example international businesses teach employees about different culture so employees don’t accidentally offend others. As an American I have been exposed to lots of different cultures, and my life has been enriched with each one.
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          Jul 8 2013: I guess I have an easier go of it since I work with numbers ie the languages of math, science, computer systems. Sticking to those metalanguages and not using idioms while conversing helps a lot. Being a good listener is also important. I think we can resolve cultural awkwardness as it comes up. And over a short time be comfortable with each other. Also I do not have the opportunity to travel. That would require more of the familiarity with common culture before hand, has you mention.
      • Jul 8 2013: Discrimination. Praise and blame properly belong to rhetoric. What might be tolerated, even encouraged in the weak may bear absurdly monstrous... and unseemly outcomes in the very powerful. You praise yourself then hold yourself to a higher standard, claim preeminence then behave like a big guy, stop looking for a pat on the back, give a pat, don't demand it. Any collection of a million people (actually far smaller groups) contains all types of people, this applies not only to your 'thing' but to others too. Nations are mere abstractions and to the extent they create false divisions they are amoral. Even in a group of 100 Mathematicians or christians, jews, muslims, chinese you will find the high noble and the ignoble, even among the ignoble you will find those who are necessarily so and among the seemingly noble you will find rank opportunists, even in one person. Idiot geniuses, brilliant idiots... but are you kind to strangers? Some rats have more noble personalities than some saints. I love allot about the UK, but I shudder to think of it;s evils. Today the usa must be tempered by the fires of criticism, what is it's metal? it is not little prussia though it magnates often want it to be. Hopefully it can regain some dignity. I may edit this later.
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        Jul 9 2013: Thanks Bob, I like your comments on multiculturalism. That is a good set of principles for anyone meeting someone for the first time. I like those 5 principles.
      • Jul 10 2013: I' m looking over reviews of the texts you mention...
        I discovered Aristotle when I was 7 so his approach is jargon free for me. Sister Miriam Joseph has culled and presents the finest systematic take on analytic of language and thought i have seen. Her Trivium (don't be misled by the title, it's obscurity or the monastic choice of the author) sticks to basics, in well ordered relations. Cassirer for formation of consciousness and it's relations with symbols, Burke for a deep appreciation of the nature and functions of rhetoric. Selye re adaptation as a fundemental concept. top four there, of thousands.
        I'm reading Freakanomics for the first time. Biocentrism... without life nature is barren... beyond life as bare existence all is adaptation (interpolation from H Selye), Bergson. Rachman fabulous for the piano in C, I love the russians, tchai violin in D. Abstract expressionalism and decorative arts. Since JFK was killed I have no wish to be famous.
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    Jul 8 2013: Given America = The United States: Being American means one is a citizen of the United States .. that is all.

    There is no "American culture."

    The US Constitution establishes an open social order. One may be happy to know this simply because it allows anyone, any culture, any religion, any association to exist side by side with any other.

    A social order (system), like this, requires much energy to maintain. When that energy goes away the system will become disorganized, chaotic and thus gone.

    1) Being American is not based on ancestors. We are individuals.
    2) The structure/system provided by the US Constitution is not sustainable.
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      Jul 9 2013: @Bob Charles
      . . . oops! I missed #2) above: "The structure/system provided by the US Constitution is not sustainable." It has worked for over 200 years! But the U.S. Constitution is not unique in the world. There are many other documents with similar import.

      And it takes a whole lot more than just the U.S. Constitution to establish social order and the common 'open' liberties that we take for granted. If you don't believe me, ask any 1st or 2nd year law student!
      • Jul 13 2013: Quite dead documents. They're often ignored or interpreted away.

        Right to free speech? Not if it can even remotely be considered "national interest". We've seen recent cases of reviving antiquated regulations just to curb it.
        Right to self-organise? Not if you don't register and that's controlled by politician's whim.
        Right to protest? Tell that to the police instigators or troops sent against protests, even peaceful ones.
        Right to privacy? Laughable, let's remove adresses, take all other data and say it's "private", as practiced by the NSA and some other agencies.

        Right to arms is at least still there and this one hasn't really made USA a better place either.

        Same story everywhere in most, or perhaps all constitutional, I mean bureaucratical countries.
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          Jul 13 2013: True in many if not most of the nations on the Earth.

          As to the U.S.A. itself, I stand by my positive assertions as to human rights & legally protected personal liberties.

          These concepts are worthy of export. These ideas really are "Ideas worth spreading . . . " But when the U.S.A. does this - even via diplomacy, people scream "CIA skulduggery!" or "U.S. Colonialism!"

          Some days you just can't win!
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    Jul 8 2013: To Don Anderson:

    Among other things there is no merit in being proud or not to one's accident of birth--it is what it is.
    The question should be what each one of us contributed to making this USA or THIS WORLD a better place?.
    Certainly ancestry and or family heritage can come with intrinsic advantages or disadvantages under a given moment in history.But one's circumstances do not necessarily completely define the person one becomes to be.

    In today's America and for some good time earlier WE ,THE PEOPLE ( that is to say the general citizenry) have been sidelines by the powers that be.yes; one can vote and exercise some fundamental political and legal rights.But WE THE PEOPLE do not determine our political life.WE do not own THE FEDERAL RESERVE; we do not have any say in the matters pertaining to THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX (as President Eisenhower indicated in his last speech before leaving office ). We do not control why and how we go to foreign wars; financial contributions to congressman reelections from and by the major corporations overwhelm the political debate on any issue of substance.

    So; in essence it does not matter what your ancestry or class is unless it happens to be in the UPPER UPPER HIGH CLASS of American society.
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      Jul 8 2013: Emotional feelings of pride, sham, embarrassment, etc. go far beyond merit or logic.
      People struggle with their feelings over childhood abuse, handicaps, health issues, and many other reasons, even though they are things beyond their control.
      It part of being human and like any emotion needs to be embraced to come to terms with them and not suppressed.
      • Jul 8 2013: Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
        The proper study of Mankind is Man.
        Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
        A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
        With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
        With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,
        He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
        In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
        In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
        Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
        Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
        Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
        Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd;
        Still by himself, abus'd or disabus'd;
        Created half to rise and half to fall;
        Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
        Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd;
        The glory, jest and riddle of the world.

        Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
        Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
        Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
        Correct old time, and regulate the sun;
        Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere,
        To the first good, first perfect, and first fair;
        Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
        And quitting sense call imitating God;
        As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
        And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
        Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
        Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!
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          Jul 9 2013: Quoting here from Wikipedia: An Essay on Man is a poem published by Alexander Pope in 1734. It is a rationalistic effort to use philosophy in order to "vindicate the ways of God to man" (l.16), a variation of John Milton's claim in the opening lines of Paradise Lost, that he will "justify the ways of God to men" (1.26). It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God's purposes, he cannot complain about his position in the Great Chain of Being (ll.33-34) and must accept that "Whatever IS, is RIGHT" (l.292), a theme that was satirized by Voltaire in Candide (1759).[1] More than any other work, it popularized optimistic philosophy throughout England and the rest of Europe.

          I agree less with the Wikipedia author, & more with the text authored by Alexander Pope, itself.

          As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
          And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
          Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
          Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!
      • Jul 10 2013: the Essay, 30 pgs: http://www.english.gsu.edu/~mbrown/Pope/essaymanpope.pdf

        Try afew lines here and there over several days, til you've read afew pages, and you will likely read much more. In early reading I found the rhyming abit annoying but now find the work wonderful on the small scale as well as the large. He's the little (4 and a half feet) Shakespere. You will find many saying you are familiar with since they are classic. Buena suerte
  • Jul 8 2013: if not now, when was the usa great? roosevelt's usa? gi bill usa? worker's union usa? 1920's or 1870's or 1820s? when did this Great America exist? 1795?
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      Jul 8 2013: "Great" - relative terms, bhaa. Define oneself's personal desired quality of life and there is a culture somewhere in this world to accommodate it. The only thing important about the US is it's Constitution. The real "American Dream" is to be able to have any or all world cultures we want within its borders. The world is flat (Thomas Friedman) so it is possible.
  • Jul 7 2013: You are right, a lot of the information I stated was unsubstantiated. Thank you for reminding me to do my research before I state things as if they were fact. I edited that fluff out.
    The fact that I will stand by is that the America envisioned by its founders is slipping away from our view each day. Is this truly the result of greedy lobbyist and corporations, or the result of a necessary shift in response to a changing and rapidly developing world? I can't truthfully know. It is hard to see the true motives of politicians.
  • Jul 7 2013: Good! Thanks

    Hutt Petviashvili
    Georgia, Tbilisi
    Website - http://cool-car-games.org
  • Jul 7 2013: The term "American" should refer to the peoples populating the North and South American continents. How did it come to refer only to the citizens of the United States?
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      Jul 9 2013: That's why I refer to "U.S. Americans" when I refer to citizens of the U.S.A. I had a student from South America point that out to me when I was in college. And, I might add THAT made perfect sense.
  • Jul 7 2013: wblakesx java

    You didn't leave a reply notice but I am barging in anyhow.
    I have a question for you.
    Will Obama seek a third term?

    I have heard rumblings to that effect.
    • Jul 7 2013: Not sure about some things...refresh me if you like.

      I can't think why O or anyone else would want a third term or why it might serve any purpose. It seems Nader's take on the unitary nature of usa parties is right. Now that O has ratified so much of the right agenda and modus what chance of change is there? It's heathcare and afew similar topics that start to loom, more bitching from the screaming bitch party. The usa is not likely to see substantial public unrest, too many tools are available. Might be trouble in the politics of it's allies though, recently the leaders have poodled disgracefully. More tensions w/iran&china... asia

      We're swinging between 1984 & Brave NWO, a hard target to drop.
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      Jul 9 2013: @Frank Barry . . .
      By law, Obama is limited to two terms only. Quoting from the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

      No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

      Obama will NEVER run for President ever again! Or if he does run for President, it will NOT be for President of the U.S.A. Could he run for President in Kenya?
      • Jul 9 2013: Juan Valdez 10+ Thank you

        I know the 22nd Amendment.
        But there have been some rumblings of a serious nature.

        I hope you are right. The RNC and DNC share our government
        through well paid media advertising. I can hardly wait to see what
        devil they throw in front of us next.

        Did you see the news from France today? They were so upset
        with the NSA that they have stopped trading with the US and EU
        for a period of 2 weeks. There goes the good wine.

        Being an American today requires being able to swallow a whole
        lot of scary government. ... It reminds me of Hitler in 1935, only
        without the 'brown-shirts'.

        When your government leader bends the constitution, be prepared
        to visit Canada.

        As you questioned Juan, Yes Obama could run and be elected President
        in Kenya? But he wouldn't get my vote. .. I'm not registered there.
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          Jul 9 2013: Trust me, neither party would let Obama run. After all, he's a Professor of Constitutional law at the University of Chicago. He knows the rules. Even if he tried to run as an independent, no state would put him on the ballot. If by some perchance some state DID put Obama on the ballot for a third term, someone would sue the state. Maybe even the ACLU!

          No, the 22nd amendment was the anti-FDR amendment. FDR was elected president 4 times; '32, '36, '40 & '44. Arguably, he was Americas' first & only fascist president. No, he was nothing like Hitler, Mussolini, or Tojo. FDR's legacy is one of DEFEATING Fascism in the world. But he did turn the oval office into a 'lifetime tenure.' He died after winning his fourth election to the presidency.

          Obama is done as a politician. But if he & Bill Clinton start working the same 'ex-president' rope lines . . . two things will happen. 1) The liberal ideas of the Democratic Party will get lots of attention & debate. And 2) we will have entered an entirely new era of Celebrity ex-Presidents!

          In fact, I think I'll make that my "TED idea." If after 2017 Clinton/Obama did a world-tour of televised 'ex-President' debates on various issues; that would be really COOL! People who vote need to THINK more about a whole lot of issues. People who DON'T vote need to be MOTIVATED to go vote when they have the opportunity. So there you have it. That's my TED idea!
  • Jul 7 2013: Don, you may want to get your research hat on --
    Interesting how the history of America has changed.

    Last weekend.
    I was reading the NY Times article about the NSA's activities
    during the Bush administration and the article told about the
    then Attorney General John Ashcroft while in a Hospital
    intensive care unit, being asked to sign off on a controversial
    NSA program, which he refused to do, directing them to the
    other guy in the room. That guy is today our newest head of
    the FBI. Selected by Obama 3 months ago and appointed
    last week.

    That article got me to thinking about where John Ashcroft
    is today? I don't know.

    But a few years ago in Dec of 2010, I think he was made a
    Director of a 'civilian military recruitment and weapons training center'.
    I was researching that unique corporation at the time. I even have
    a copy of their Application form to be used by those eager young
    mercenaries.

    For those of you who remember. Blackwater, a corporation, was a Private
    Contractor working for the US in Iraq. But after being charged for heinous
    crimes of killing 17 innocent Iraqis' at a road stop, the company changed it's
    name to Xe and then they changed theirs or sold out to USTC, which some
    consider to be a Private Mercenary Army training facility on US soil.
    US Training Center (not a US Government company)
    Information & Employment
    252-435-2488
    Sales:
    252-435-2035
    U.S. Training Center Moyock
    PO Box 1029
    Moyock, NC 27958

    U.S. Training Center Southwest
    7685 Siempre Viva Road
    San Diego, CA 92154
    Military Unit or Agency:
    252-435-2016
    Corporate Group:
    252-435-0075

    I'm wondering, since I never heard about them in the Media,
    what happened to their recruits?

    Are they today just a Police and SWAT training facility?
    Are they even in business?
    And when Johnny comes marching home again;
    Need we worry?
  • Jul 7 2013: Hi Frank.

    One of the causes of the users revolution was the loss of the right to jury trail. The UK was unable to get convictions against smugglers (who offered cheaper prices till the B E Indian company offered to undercut the smugglers, hence the Boston Tea Party; organized to maintain the smuggler's profits) with juries who benefited from smug gilt*.

    So the UK put them under Admiralty (ADMINISTRATIVE LAW) jurisdiction, charged them w/civil offenses (no jury, 'preponderance of evidence' rather than 'beyond a reasonable doubt'), took them to Canada and found them GUILTY. Happening all over now...only we live on narrower margins in cities now, proletarian plebs without basic rights unless we can afford attorneys (perhaps we can get a professional discount, if we're crooks). Lot's of poor idiots getting the shaft, some of them mothers and fathers, others kids, black, white, poor but not often rich...

    So kids, don't even look like you might possibly think the thought of breaking the law, respect, admire, trust your
    betters... dress like you're rich, drive a new car, get plastic surgery, smile, say nice things about us...a, say Nice things about US!

    *see cuba
  • Jul 7 2013: something in the air, dis embodied
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    Jul 7 2013: America is an idea which has raised the standard of living of the world more than any other country in the history of the world.

    It has done infinitely more good than harm, what other countries can claim that?
    • Jul 7 2013: More good then harm? Its probably been engaged in more wars then any other country in the world. Its extending its influence in the world by using its military might. Its probably the largest terroist organization in the world. Run by rich people that are served and kept by middle class (whatever that means) and poor people.
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        Jul 7 2013: Yes it was terrible how the U.S. stopped Germany and Japan in WWll, lets see is South Korea better off today than North Korea? More recently I will give you we should not have gone to Iraq or Afghanistan which appear more useful for keeping the defense contractors gainfully employed.

        More wars than any other country? More than England, France, Germany, Rome, I don't think so.

        More good by inventing electricity, the cell phone, the airplane, the internet, the telephone, radio transmission, tv transmission, etc Perhaps the UK invented more but the point is that it was a free market in either case.
        • Jul 7 2013: over 50% bs. don't swallow it, the truth is more complex but not at all hard to find with the resources recently made available. google. jingo lives on ignorance and vanity, often as compensation for anxiety of being left out or worse.

          cambodia is worse off than china but then the us didn't bomb the living f' out of china... canada's better off than mexico, cuban schools are better than most of the usa's... usa is a world leader though, partic in violence, murder, suicide, crime, incarceration, vanity... famous for it's stupidity even, esp, among it's most boorishly boastful bsers

          The Germans are the historic bearers of the spirit of freedom. The French are frankly free, the UK is the land of liberty, Egypt and Iraq mothers of the world, China the centre of the world, Greece the land of the individual, Jews God's chosen people (atheists), Christians- God's chosen people..., Muslims- Gods chosen people, Russia-land of the free, ....
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        Jul 7 2013: wblakesx java right back at ya
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    Jul 6 2013: The US Constitution is exceptional. The population of the US may included anyone. So, the people are not necessarily "exceptional." The US has no national culture. So, what has caused the people of the US to degenerate into those capable of the actions wblakesx java mentions? Has some systemic thing taken advantage of "human nature?"
  • Jul 6 2013: An American is any Person who is born in The Continent of America. America is a Continent not a Country, An U.S Citizen is a Person who is born in The United States of America...The term American was first Use by European People who came to America for Visiting or other reasons but they refer to U,S as America but Technically America is the Continent...Any Person who love his Country is proud of Such Country........I'm Proud to be American Citizen or U/S Citizen.
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      Jul 6 2013: I agree. It has always bothered me too. There just isn't a good word for people living in the United States of America. I guess your use of "US Citizen" works. I might start using that. Same, with the generic term "Indian" for the indigenous peoples (some 600 nations) that lived here before, during and after Amerigo Vespucci.

      I do not like to use the word "Indian" except in responding to someone who has to use it. For example, some school teachers with their stereotypical clustering of the people into 5 or 6 groups to make it easier to teach.
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    Jul 6 2013: wblakesx java, here is the thinking game: Which one of us is going to drop into Ad Hominem attacks first? I hope never. But, if it happens please keep the communications channels open .. I will try my best.
  • Jul 6 2013: South Korean research that has come out since the nation democratized in the 1990s about the massacres of Korean civilians. This has been the subject of painstaking research by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Seoul and Cumings describes the results as “horrific.” Atrocities by “our side, the South Koreans (ran) six to one ahead of the North Koreans in terms of killing civilians, whereas most Americans would think North Koreans would just as soon kill a civilian to look at him.” The numbers of civilians killed in South Korea by the government, Cumings said, even dwarfed Spaniards murdered by dictator Francisco Franco... Cumings said about 100,000 South Koreans were killed in political violence between 1945 and 1950 and perhaps as many as 200,000 more were killed during the early months of the war. .. In all, Korea suffered 3 million civilian dead during the 1950-53 war, more killed than the 2.7 million Japan suffered during all of World War II.

    One of the worst atrocities was perpetrated by the South Korean police at the small city of Tae Jun. They executed 7,000 political prisoners while Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. military officials looked on. .. the Pentagon blamed the atrocity on the Communists... “The Joint Chiefs of Staff classified the photographs of it because they make it clear who’s doing it, and they don’t let the photographs out until 1999 when a Korean finally got them declassified.”
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      Jul 6 2013: Sources for the above:
      http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-korean-war-the-unknown-war-the-coverup-of-us-war-crimes/23742

      founder of Global Research:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Chossudovsky

      Question: How many Jews died in the Holocaust?

      Ok. The USA is bad; They do wrong things; etc: Who is at fault? The US Constitution? The original European founders? The US Capitalists? Ronald Reagan puppets?

      What should be the final outcome of a solution to the USA problem? Dismantle the USA? What country is doing it right? Use their system? Reduce world population to 500,000,000? Put humans back to pre-agriculture conditions 10,000 years ago?
      • Jul 7 2013: Holocaust? i don't know, something between the extremes, but that is bare "factualism" devoid of context which may give some meaning.

        Fault? as we examine important things it's time to use our best critical faculties, that's a long learning process fraught with error but avoiding obvious error is part of the start. My library core is around Cassirer (Philosophy of Symbolic Forms et al), Kenneth Burke, Sister Miriam Joseph (Trivium) Selye et al (Stress) and others. Walter Lippman's 'Pubic Opinion' is good. Origins and History of Consciousness sets my Terministic screen.

        Whenever something is respected for long it is likely to be corrupted. Mass thought tends to the lowest common denominator so 'joining' and 'boosterism' etc are fraught with danger of error, but so is lonely thought,, pays your quarter takes your chances, no guarantees.

        Fav film- Catch 22... Brando's Burn is worth several close watchings.

        Things aren't hopeless, more on the razor's edge. Singularities loom, some good, some terrible. History is a bloodbath, but that doesn't excuse us from being human as we can. I'm quite interested in Ontology visualization... we are embodied consciousness thus we perceive things/constructs from a biological gestalt but we are capable of abstraction so we can conceive of abstract things/constructs.

        If it's really and truly Obviously garbage... throw it out. Otherwise try to keep options open... ie maintain choice, ie freedom (small f) or... join Thoreau's 'machine'? give all to it.

        I came across this while looking for a longer explanation of 'things'(ontology). I haven't read it all yet but it looks good. Heidegger famously won a debate with Cassirer at Davos in 1927, but Cassirer is my main study now.

        http://www.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2041.html
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          Jul 8 2013: Thanks for the very interesting reply. New ideas to explore, for me.

          My approach to thinking is influenced by Eugene J Meehan, "The Thinking Game" ... the use of epistemology to developed critical thinking based on how a practical political scientist views purposes and solutions. His applications of this in public policy are interesting. Not a fan of Dr. Richard Paul.

          Being objective is difficult. A constant exercise. Lanza's popular work "Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe" links to Kant are important.

          As a system analyst I like Mind Maps, process flow diagrams, Hyperknowlege cr "Why, how what" structures"e, to take notes and build/document models. I appreciate super-complex modeling like global climate change models etc. Google will use neural network system to become a giant brain and the Technological singularity will doom us all.

          The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800, Jay Winik, and bibliography, influenced my belief in the US Constitution. I am not a fan of Howard Zinn at all.

          Economist Steven D. Levitt and his Freakonmics type products are piratically objective. Political Science and Economist types do what philosophers think about.

          Popeye, Altman 1980, is my favorite movie, Sergei Rachmaninoff helps me recover, I wake up to a print of Picasso' "Lady in White" every morning.

          I have never seen Burn. But will. I l like Lippman's thoughts on public opinion. Democratic mobs choosing leaders rather than the leaders choosing themselves, is an interesting process. Tried to be a leader once, but no one followed me. Not sure what being human is.
      • Jul 9 2013: Less than 5 minutes ago: I' m looking over reviews of the texts you mention...
        I discovered Aristotle when I was 7 so his approach is jargon free for me. Sister Miriam Joseph has culled and presents the finest systematic take on analytic of language and thought i have seen. Her Trivium (don't be misled by the title, it's obscurity or the monastic choice of the author) sticks to basics, in well ordered relations. Cassirer for formation of consciousness and it's relations with symbols, Burke for a deep appreciation of the nature and functions of rhetoric. Selye re adaptation as a fundemental concept. top four there, of thousands.
        I'm reading Freakanomics for the first time. Biocentrism... without life nature is barren... beyond life as bare existence all is adaptation (interpolation from H Selye), Bergson. Rachman fabulous for the piano in C, I love the russians, tchai violin in D. Abstract expressionalism and decorative arts. Since JFK was killed I have no wish to be famous.

        mind maps... check this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a703TTbxghc&list=PLPuUoTWTYnt5W3kQ6_02dnRKoERBh5G7l
        there is a web base commercial ap very similar. Any item can be categorized and linked to any other, compactly. I dwnlded it but I'm not well up on computers or code. it crashed my machine. If i could get it running right i would be seriously studying it... multi level nodal analysis... make a huge dent in the problems of categories.

        burn http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY4q_j8qChA&list=PL3BFC943B573FA0E3
        review: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burn!
        (think i'll watch some of the italian version now... with the scenes which were edited out of the us version. check it's wiki review)

        c22 book review: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch-22
        kinda like picasso... i like his fav musician (praised in his highest terms) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eex1aqbfP08

        the film reward multiple views once the thread is caught.
  • Jul 6 2013: To top that off.. “the Pentagon did a video movie called ‘Crime of Korea’ where you see shots of pits that go on for like a football field, pit after pit of dead people, and (actor) Humphrey Bogart in a voice-over says, ‘someday the Communists will pay for this, someday we’ll get the full totals and believe me we’ll get the exact, accurate totals of the people murdered here and we will make these war criminals pay.’ Now this is a complete reversal of black and white, done as a matter of policy.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-korean-war-the-unknown-war-the-coverup-of-us-war-crimes/23742
  • Jul 6 2013: black men are stigmatized for life... as are the honest, the poor
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      Jul 6 2013: Who stigmatizes Blacks, the honest, the poor? Me? You? White rich people? Capitalist? Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson? former Senator Byrd? And for what purposes? What do we do about it?
  • Jul 6 2013: "615,000 lost lives later it was accomplished. The Constitution has evolved to correct itself. "
    The war started when? got seriously underway when? In 1862 congress (w/the south absent) passed the genocidal continental ralway acts, dooming the indegenoes.

    On a % basis the Italians were far braver than yanks in ww2. The french beat the english in the us revolution, and paid for the usa to fight. Japan lost 3,000,000 in ww2, the us fought a naval war there... but the japs were fighting the chinese, koreans, viets, phileppinoes, ozzies, brits, mongolians, javanese, malays, ... Brit Commonwelath. 30,000 yanks went awol after d day, ran black markets out of connections with pxs. Songman Rhee's phalangists provoked N Korea. Sovs lost as many men and killed twice as many germans in one battle as yanks lost in the entire war...

    And yanks are killing again, reaching for global empire for their business crusading elites. Wouldn't be so bad if they were honest with themselves and the world instead of being a pack of wan...
  • Jul 6 2013: Hi Bob- glad you get it

    http://www.cleveland.com/tv-blog/index.ssf/2012/02/slavery_by_another_name_film_follows_pulitzer-winning_books_look_at_neo-slavery.html

    There's another book I read on slavery by a Pulitzer winner. It was the Brits for various reasons who stopped black slavery, while the Irish, Indians, Chinese by the millions/tens of millions etc... in ways that set ample precedents for Hitler and the Nazis who were Very upset about the uk treatment of the Boers. US slavers wanted Texas but slavery was illegal in Mexico so... war. Cuba was a smugglers den for slavers (flag bros w/ florida?). United fruit picked up the slavers plans for central american slavery leading to 300,000 murdered in Guatemala alone around the 80's (ready to go to war for poor Syria eh?). Yanks and rebs had the richest real estate boon of all time land in their laps after killing of the owners of This Great Land, yet drove into depression time after time as they raped the soil and had to move in on new peoples. Real estate booms and crashes are a way of death yet no one saw the last one coming. Dumbasses, farmers in the MW took loans as banks insisted they needed New equipment to stay 'competitive', banks got the land... under reagan. Yanks, memories like loose bowels!

    But I can't address it peicemeat, HALF OF WHAT EVERYONE KNOWS IS TRUE IS A LIE. If you care you can work on it, won't be as easy as blithely backsliding but there it is.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21226068

    http://spice.stanford.edu/docs/134
  • Jul 6 2013: why what?
  • Jul 5 2013: The USA has made many mistakes and hopefully has grown, not sure about some of the leaders. A good example would be the Imperialistic period which was opposed by William Jennings Bryant and even Andrew Carnegie, who was an enemy of Bryant.

    What country/society would have allowed Carnegie to go from rag to riches.

    The writings of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin, Madison, Monroe, etc. laid the foundation of the American Dream - how valid that Dream is, is a debate for another day.
  • Jul 4 2013: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01724mf reality behind b tea party (coined in the 1940s)

    remember usa came into being for freedom ( to hold slaves bs)boston massacre... 8 brit patriotic sons fighting for their lives before a gang of thugs

    civil war to free slaves (and wipe out Indians)

    cuba (steal the revolution from the soon to be succesful black revolutionaries and put the spanish admins back in their posts)

    Philippines (kill em all)

    who was asleep on watch at pearl?

    1/3 the pop of N korea killed and all mod buildings destroyed

    maybe more than half the key events are bs
    • Jul 5 2013: On the N Korea, who invaded who and whom? Thought N Korea invaded S Korea and destroyed the S Korea capital.
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    Jul 4 2013: This is America’s Independence Day, and not a time to reflect on our wars. We have other times of the year set aside for that.

    We have always been a divided country, even in the beginning.
    We had want-to-be tyrants (loyalist to the King) so for power and wealth others out of fear.
    And we those that knew the King as a tyrant and said “Give me Library or Give me Death”.

    And it is in the spirit of “Give me Library or Give me Death” that we celebrate today.

    After the war the (loyalist to the King) could have been exiled or killed, but instead they were accepted back into this melting pot.
    The wannabe-tyrants are still here today;
    They tried to divide the country with a Civil War and make a slave nation, but were defeated. And yet again were accepted back into this melting pot.

    And now they are at it again, and they will lose again.
    They have the tyrants of the classrooms on their side, and the media/Hollywood court jesters lying for them.
    But us who say “Give me Library or Give me Death” will always win, no matter the nation.
  • Jul 4 2013: I am not American. I am British. I believe I can answer from the standpoint of what it means to be a national of any particular country.

    I would add that whilst I am not a traitor to "my country," I am far from being a patriot.

    Simply put, I would argue that the answer to "what it means" is whatever answer you choose to settle upon. Nobody gets to choose their nationality, at least, not at birth.

    One of my grandfathers became an MBE, and my wife's father also gained that honour. They, and I, were of course human, and that being the case, there is no reason to differentiate them from anybody else. They simply made some decisions during their lives that British society recognizes as honourable. They also had the opportunity to make these decisions. If they had been born in a different place or had developed different interests, their lives would have been shaped in different ways.

    As you say, logically you should only feel pride and shame for your personal accomplishments. Since you cannot fundamentally control the actions of anybody else (and here I discount the use of force to do so), why should you feel anything about anything else?

    I don't agree with a lot of what my country does, but I have no say in these actions, apart of course from a tiny degree of influence brought about by voting and, perhaps, talking to an MP. I don't agree with some of the things my family does, but again, my level of influence is limited. I identify as being human, but not as belonging to any particular state.

    I have achieved a lot that I am proud of; I have also committed some shameful deeds in the past; and that's where my level of pride and shame end for me.
  • Jul 4 2013: Certainly, there is a rich history from which to claim pride or shame. But what exactly have you done to be proud of? Those people lived their lives making subtle decisions and reaping rewards faintly aware of the myriad true causes. Likewise any possible shame for the misdeeds and shortcomings of others. They can't possibly reflect on you. You can come from a line of the best or worst - it then is up to you to decide which direction it follows from you.
    Sure, you may grow up in a Soviet Gulag, or a Big-Brother Amerika, you may have your travels constricted to a 2-mile radius with a spy-camera strapped to your nose - are you crushed, or are your beliefs sky-high; or you can grow up in Montana - able run until you drop, but choose to believe all others have filthy, depraved hearts. (Do you really have the power/influence to change this reality? How much does that freedom of thought matter to those without nimble minds? How much real damage does it do to a society to be in a Prison or living on a stolen homeland?)
    You can build a mansion of gold for others spending you own sweat and tears, only to watch them scrap it for cake. Is it better to build WITH others, to ensure your reasons and values are mixed into it all?
    How much do we owe to the past, or to the future? If we accept these ill-gotten gains from our past, we should strive to repay fairly. We should so-value future generations.
    Are you on the front-lines of progress - in any way, shape or form?!
    It is certainly a complex world we live in. We can choose a great many beliefs, and struggle within the briar patches of our cultures. But can we simplify things for the sake of our sanity? Is a good place to start that you matter?
  • Comment deleted

    • Jul 7 2013: Do you really believe Americans have freedom any longer? I have NEVER seen such an unresponsive government in my life as in the past few decades.
  • Jul 3 2013: over time the system becomes choked by the clever/"practical" (not wise) and the system ossifies. then it dissolves and is replaced by the next fashion. jubilee goes back to summeria 2000+bc
  • Jul 3 2013: Classical Athens (508 BC – 322 BC) under the reforms of Cleisthenes
    Various Greek city-states under Athenian influence: these loyalties and governments changed frequently (see synoecisms), and in some instances were even under the influence of Sparta without succumbing to the adoption of the government system of oligarchy
    Roman Republic (c. 509 BC – 27 BC)
    Ancient Carthage (308 BC – 146 BC)
    The Licchavis (c. 600 BC – c. 300 BC), one of the eight confederate clans of the Vajjian Confederacy:[1][2] the city of Vaishali was the capital of the republic
    The Kurus, a clan in Iron Age Vedic India, which started in the Early Vedic period and later evolved into a republican Mahajanapada state in the later Vedic period
    Middle Ages and Renaissance[edit]
    Republic of San Marino (301–present)
    Republic of Amalfi (839–1131)
    Republic of Venice (c. 9th century–1797)
    Icelandic Commonwealth (930–1262)
    Republic of Pisa (11th century – 1406, 1494–1509)
    Republic of Genoa (c. 1100–1797)
    Republic of Florence (1115–1537)
    Novgorod Republic (1136–1478)[3]
    Commune of Rome (1144–1193)
    Republic of Lucca (1160–1805)
    Republic of Siena (1167–1557)
    Old Swiss Confederacy (1291–1798)
    Republic of Ragusa (14th century – 1808)
    Pskov Republic (1348–1510)
    Republic of Cospaia (1440–1826)
    Ambrosian Republic (1447–1450)
    Zaporizhian Sich (1552—1775)
    Dutch Republic (1581–1795)
    Republic of Salé (1619–1668)
    Early modern[edit]
    Goust (1648? – ?)
    Cossack Hetmanate (1649–1764)
    Commonwealth of England (1649–1660)
    Corsican Republic (1755–1769)[4]
  • Jul 3 2013: *Privately owned land/property,
    From the earliest times the Sumerians had a strong sense of private property. After they learned to write and figure, they kept documents about every acquired object, including such small items as shoes. Every business transaction had to be recorded. Near the gates of the cities, scribes would sit ready to sell their services. Their hands would move fast over a lump of clay, turning the stylus. Then the contracting parties added their signatures by means of seals. The usual seal was an engraved cylinder of stone or metal that could be rolled over wet clay.

    *God given rights and not just government given rights (like freedom of religion),
    God created governments. And before governments? Pre Saul jews had no god given rights? Germans had none? Franks (word meaning "free").

    *All men are created equal, (yes yes it took us too long to realize ALL means ALL without exception for nationality or gender.) bs on SOOO many levels, women? children? blacks? foreignors? Cambodians (1/2 ton explosives dropped for every man woman and child. USA backed Pol Pot before and after the mass murders)? Iraqis? "Indians" the "poor"? nice fantasy, but the evidence leads to other conclusions
    *and several economic/free market ideas.

    Nah it's all bull and any reasonably bright, un-brainwashed 8 year old could discover the faultiness of your args in an hour.
    Problem is most yanks don't seem that smart.
  • Jul 3 2013: American--it's just a locale. That being said, there are some unique elements to the polity that arose from certain English colonies in the 18th century. If anything qualifies as being a uniquely "American" outlook, it would be these.

    1: Government is to be a servant, not a master.
    2: Government is not to confiscate from individuals and redistribute to individuals. Government confiscation is only legitimate when it is for a "res publica" (public thing) such as roads, postal service, etc.
    3: The best government is a "republic" (res publica), which means that political legitimacy cannot be owned by any individual or subset of the citizenry as a whole--no majority can legitimately exterminate a minority, for example.
    3a: Appending from all of the above is that rights are not and cannot be created by government, just as they cannot be destroyed by government. Either they are innate to human condition or they do not exist. If government can create a right, it can destroy it with equal legitimacy.
    4: Private life is a private affair, not to be meddled with by government.
    5: Government is not to be dominated nor dictated by a private coven or conspiracy.
    6: We are all to be equal under the law and equal under the state. Social equality is a private affair, not for government to meddle in.

    You will note that almost all of the above has to do with the proper place of government. This is how traditional American philosophy has been framed.

    Note I have said nothing about "capitalism", etc. Those are all really just subsidiary issues. "Capitalism" is one way that the private sphere can organize itself economically--it's not government's place to facilitate it or get in the way, except for having one set of laws for all--rich people are to get no legal perks.
  • Jul 3 2013: *Privately owned land/property, bs Private property is an instinct. Look at the history of taxation.
    *God given rights and not just government given rights (like freedom of religion), bs Republics and democracies
    (greek word) have existed longer than mankind.

    viz: John Locke was not the first major figure to argue this case[PP]. That honor goes to St. Thomas Aquinas, interpreting the writings of Aristotle in light of Christianity in the 12th and 13th century: “To possess private property…is necessary to human life.” http://dailytheology.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/a-theological-history-of-private-property/

    hedges did, physically, symbolically and legally, in the dispossession of the commoner. Acting as an organic barbed wire, the hedge was increasingly put to work to protect the lands of the powerful. Disrupting the propertied spaces of the commoning economy, hedges were not surprisingly targeted by those who opposed privatisation. The hedge, as both a sign and material barrier, served complicated and sometimes opposing ends. It materialised private property's right to exclude, but thus came into conflict with common property's right not to be excluded. The hedge was both an edge to property and was itself property. Both the encloser and the commoner, however, had property interests in the hedge. If broken, the hedge could signal violence and riot, or the legitimate assertion of common right. The hedge served as an often formidable material barrier, yet this very materiality made it vulnerable to ‘breaking’ and ‘leveling’.


    when Marx called for the abolition of private property, he was not referring to privately owned personal property such as clothing and furniture that was not used to produce the "social wealth," but to productive property


    *All men are created equal, (yes yes it took us too long to realize ALL means ALL without exception for nationality or gender.) bs Doesn't even bear discussing... did you know George Washington chopped down a cherry tree a
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    Jul 1 2013: I took a needed day trip to real America this past weekend and I can report American values are alive and well.

    My wife and I needed a break, so we did a few hours’ drive day trip to Arthur, Illinois area.
    It’s a typical small town USA, with an Amish community and a near-by town with a growing Mexican community. (The media saying farmers are just a bunch of racist hicks is pure BS.)
    It was pure Americana and not just in the nearby area, but once you get out of the cities and leave the interstates, it’s all farmland and friendly small towns.

    When you hear X% of Americans support this or that, those surveys don’t include small town and farming Americans, and are knowingly false. When you see pictures of obese Americans, again those don’t include good hard working country folks. (Yes they eat hardily, but they burn it off with hard work) when you hear Americans are not in touch with nature, well you can guess who they are not including.

    Before I said that ideas outlast things of stone and metal, I’ll add governments and armies to that list.
    The number one thing tyrant’s fear is not wars, armies, sanctions or politics; they fear the people getting the idea of freedom.
  • Jun 30 2013: unfortunately it is mostly bs
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      Jul 1 2013: LOL, I don’t see how anyone could argue with such a well thought-out and insightful post.

      I’m sorry; but this is TED conversations, so put some thought into it.
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      Jul 3 2013: wblakesx java
      I’m still not sure what you’re saying is BS.

      As a recovering-public-education-victim, I agree the US public school system is BS. And need to be replaced with a blend of voucher schools, local, national and international online classes.

      If you’re saying democratic government is BS, I have a few thoughts on that.

      USA has a republic government, and it was the Romans that first made that popular.
      Personally I have to question if we really have two party system anymore, by their actions the republican party seems to be a puppet party just there to keep the illusion of chose to prevent Egyptian style upraising.

      USA did bring the ideas of;
      *Privately owned land/property,
      *God given rights and not just government given rights (like freedom of religion),
      *All men are created equal, (yes yes it took us too long to realize ALL means ALL without exception for nationality or gender.)
      *and several economic/free market ideas.

      And it is those ideas America did bring to mankind that make me proud, but sadly America has lost its way. And thus the source of my conflicting feelings.
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    Jun 28 2013: I have I anther question related to this topic.

    What is the cost for independence and liberty?
    How do we promote people to realize and living-up to the comment it takes?

    Do you agree that a drive for Self-reliance is key component of independence and liberty?
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      Jun 29 2013: Constant vigilance

      Start talking about the hard issues. The entitlements, national debt, subsidies, government overreach, etc

      Yup but that also means local community.
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    Jun 28 2013: For an out sider...

    America is a great and most powerful nation with great philosophy of democracy, freedom and liberty.

    The question one asks....
    Is it is following ideals of Democracy , freedom and liberty for all or for its own people only?

    To be true leader of the world it has to address this question honestly.
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      Jun 28 2013: Just a short time ago I replied to Anna Kazcorowska post in this thread (see below), as to the American Dream.

      My reply also answers your question, well from my viewpoint I can’t speech for the US leaders. Who should be only presiding over “We the People” and not lead us to be what they desire us to be.
      ------------
      The American Dream of peace, prosperity and liberty, has always been mankind’s dream. I’m thinking because America showed the world how it can be achieved for all and the benefit of all being free to pursue it, mankind’s dream become known as the American dream.

      The “all being free to pursue it” is the key, with it meaning "ALL of mankind" and not just our family, town or country. And that is/was what often sets the America Dream apart from the rest.
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    Jun 27 2013: My dad was an interesting character. He had his strengths & weaknesses. But he was a self-taught Genealogist. He was a real stickler about getting the data directly from Cemetery headstones or the U.S. Census data. "Official" recorded documents from public records (Deeds, Mortgages, Land Titles, Grant Records, Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, & Marriage licenses) were his stock in trade. He did his own family history. My mom did her side of the family. That's how they spent most of their retirement.

    Don't put much stock in the document they showed you. Not without something you can verify as an Official record from the state of (?fill-in-the-blank?). Did they TELL you what government archive houses the original of this document? Can you go SEE the original? Did they tell you that the original is housed in either a courthouse or a museum or other "Official Archive" held by the State or the Military etc., Make sure they give you the reference or index data from the document. Then you can send a copy of your copy to say, the U.S. Army and ask that they certify the copy you provide as a "True copy." That's the only way to go about it. Otherwise, you buy a forgery.

    Quill-pen ink would have been unequally faded. No human handwriting could ever have been that consistent. And the 'Fade marks' all over the document would NOT be little gray dots like they are. To prove that someone fought in either the Revolutionary War or the Civil War, the professional societies of Genealogists set certain standards that must be met. A single suspect document obtained on-line might NOT meet the grade. Or it might. But be sure and research things carefully. If this is important, do it Professionally. No, you don't have to hire a so-called "Professional" Genealogist; because you can train yourself or learn from others. But definitely aspire to professional - level skill. Otherwise, you risk telling your children and grand-children empty "made-up" stories.
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      Jun 28 2013: Thanks Juan for the advice,

      I’m still in beginning stage, getting names, births, marriages, deaths and the history or their era. And I have also done my parents DNA. During this stage I’m coming across documents that I will need to investigated and hopefully lead to great stories, and that is a stage I’m looking forward to.

      To all,

      Although I’m proud of my heritage (both before and after coming to America), I’m also proud that I try to help all in the world myself. And that likely is a common trait with us TEDsters.
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        Jun 28 2013: Hey Don, thank you for that. I wholeheartedly agree! Because I can't resist, here is a curiosity for you. Check out todays TED video: http://www.ted.com/talks/rodney_brooks_on_robots.html

        Then check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-e3M0GlcDs

        That video might be more appropriate on the thread about NSA Snooping into our lives. But also check out Google images search term: "Dick Cheney young."

        Question: Am I the ONLY one who sees the resemblance? I have to ask. I do. I started a conversation about a month ago on Human Cloning. It wasn't all that successful. But geneticists know that if you can get your pet cloned. You also can get yourSELF cloned. It is just a question as of where & when.

        The video interview w/President Cheney is very instructive. I'd recommend it. If there is one thing that the U.S.A. does right, it's that. We don't hide our scandals, sacrifice our mistakes, or bury our dirty laundry. It doesn't really improve our standing in the eyes of the world. But I believe that the openness reflects our national integrity. We face up to our problems! And we FIX THEM!

        Good luck w/your Genealogy.
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    Jun 27 2013: Can I propose a different approach?

    An American Dream.

    What is this Dream?

    Ancestries, heritages, helixes are so intertwined nowadays, and they have always been. If you look at them, it's difficult to know who you are. Everybody has to define oneself, that's why I'm posting this.

    What is the American Dream? What is the European Dream? What is the Asian Dream? And so on? Just interested.
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      Jun 27 2013: There is a very good description of "The American Dream" on Wikipedia. This is part of what Americans think about themselves. This is who we think we are. Or at least this is what U.S. Americans aspire to be.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_American_Dream

      We might not really be that. If you judge by the "Prism" scandal alone, we certainly are NOT that. Like any other nation, U.S. history is open to interpretation. Sometimes The_American_Dream is only that: a dream.
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        Jun 28 2013: Thank you, but I was actually looking for something else. I did have a look at the article and haven't really learnt anything new from it but I agree that history is open to interpretation. It has always been. Why not learn from it to make something new so that everybody can prosper in a global melting pot of cultures? The Prism, Big Data, predictive analytics show that people are learning and learning a lot, the question remains - how to use it so that everybody can prosper (I know I'm repeating myself, that's just my bad command of the English language, sorry. By everybody I mean everybody, you included, Juan.)
        Best wishes.
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        Jun 28 2013: You're welcome :)

        Thanks for conversation and challenge, I'm looking forward to more!
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        Jun 28 2013: Hi again,

        Thanks for the link - www.weavesilk.com - that's not for me, I actually tried to write something there, didn't go that well. But still - that was fun! For about a minute.

        But anyway - being multilingual and multicultural and having global experiences with people who are - that can help a lot if you're trying to understand what it's all about. It is my picture you're looking at (my picture and a picture of me, to be linguistically precise - photograph) when viewing this comment, no make-up on. No negativity meant.

        To give this comment a bit more - experiences are not always enough to really understand. Reading and listening can help too.

        Best wishes.
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          Jun 28 2013: Thank you. I had hoped to address your presence here with both grace & respect. Your response here implies that at least, in part, I succeeded.

          TED is a place that really can make me happy sometimes. Not often, but sometimes. There are so many thoughtful, kind, & considerate people here. For that I thank the entire TED community. And equally my gratitude extends to you. Have a wonderful day.
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      Jun 28 2013: The American Dream of peace, prosperity and liberty, has always been mankind’s dream. I’m thinking because America showed the world how it can be achieved for all and the benefit of all being free to pursue it, mankind’s dream become known as the American dream.

      The “all being free to pursue it” is the key, with it meaning "ALL of mankind" and not just our family, town or country. And that is/was what often sets the America Dream apart from the rest.
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        Jun 28 2013: Just for amusement and laughs (?):

        I wouldn't like to sound like or be misunderstood as being the founding person-nerd, but peace, prosperity and liberty I can agree with. AND - I feel like adding some more stuff here, to tell you the truth. Just ask me the right questions.
        Best wishes.
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        Jun 29 2013: No, we just got lucky. And we accidentally just 'got it right.'

        North America was a vast wilderness inhabited by hunter gatherer native peoples. Europe was feudal, static & void of any concept the equivalent of 'human rights.' The few, the privileged, the wealthy had it all. Everyone else struggled & hoped to get lucky someday in some way.

        The Mississippian culture collapsed in North America. The meso-American cultures largely collapsed in South America. This was the result of European diseases for which native Americans had no immunity. That left a great wilderness populated by only a handful of people (compared to what had been before). War, atrocity, and genocide followed. But that's the history of the Old West (in part). John Wayne and what he represents we know about. That was the movies; there was history there too (in part).

        U.S. America was built by smart men with powerful ideas & a Dream. They had endless natural resources. They had endless drive & ambition. And thank God, the the few, the privileged, the wealthy, who had it all in Europe, stayed home.

        Left to themselves, the new American people built quite a nation for themselves and their children. For that I am, and will always be, grateful.
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    Jun 27 2013: I don't know, Don. I do believe we are world citizens first before we are the citizens of any country. If you saw someone starving from another country rather than your own, wouldn't you be just as likely to feed them as you would your own? That tells me we are all world citizens first.
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      Jun 27 2013: Good point.

      Building on this I suggest we have many roles. Child, sibling, parent, friend, local community, nation, world citizens.
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    Jun 26 2013: As you write, believing in freedom and liberty for all does not make you an American, as there are people living elsewhere who share these values.

    You are an American if you were born in America (jus terris), if your parents were (jus sanguinis), or if you went through passing a citizenship test to become a naturalized citizen.

    The matter of feeling pride or shame for the actions of various others is always tricky when you cannot possibly take credit for the action at hand. Do you feel proud because you happen to be of the same nationality as Michael Phelps? You might, or you might feel proud of Michael Phelps or anyone of any nationality who puts forward such a performance.

    Most people will feel proud of some of the people with whom they are connected and less proud of others, proud of some things people have done and not proud of others.

    Feeling proud of something can defy rational explanation! Example:I am giddily, demonstrably proud every time my dog does the things every dog does by nature.